In Defense of the Teal Pumpkin Project: You’re Looking at it Wrong

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In the last week, I’ve watched the Teal Pumpkin Project take off. It’s made national headlines. We’ve written about it. Multiple friends have messaged me and posted on my timeline about this project. It’s raising awareness.

And I’m thrilled.

But when I read comments on news stories about the project, I am floored. People are naaaaaasty. About a project that includes kids in a national holiday that has been celebrated for as long as I have been alive (and then some). Really?

Teal Pumpkin Project - rude comments

Then I stop and realize something: you just haven’t been in our shoes.

It’s really different, looking from the outside in. This is something I learned over the course of the past six years walking a lonely, soul-shattering road of secondary infertility. Through that journey, I learned why it wasn’t quite as easy as I thought to “just be thankful for the one you have.” Or why losing a baby at just six weeks’ gestation was a big, life wrecking deal.

Now I get it. In a way I never got it before. In the deep, gut-wrenching, soul searching way of someone who’s been in those shoes.

In Defense of Teal Pumpkin Project

So, I kind of get why you “normal families” would like to keep Halloween all about the candy you’re used to. Why we “allergy families” should just hide under a rock during the trick-or-treating hours so all of your normal kids can enjoy life as you knew it when you were growing up.

It’s not that I would ever, in a million years, wish that you would watch your child in the midst of a severe reaction to something they ate and wonder in the deepest part of you if they would live. No. No parent of an allergic child would wish that on anyone—no matter how nasty your comments (not even you who invoke Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest, and oh how I wish I was kidding).

It’s more that, deep inside of me I feel a crushing sadness that you are unwilling to find a way to include a child who had no more of a choice of being born with life threatening allergies than they did the color of their eyes or hair. And now that I think about it, maybe it’s less that you’re unwilling and more that you have such unbridled hatred about it. What did these kids do to you to deserve your hatred?

The statements that I’ve read are so full of vitriol, I just can’t even believe that I live in the same world as you. This is a project that is voluntary to help raise awareness and include kiddos who, for so long have had to switch out their trick-or-treats for the safe candy at home.

second set of comments

There is no requirement for you to join in. But, since you have been so vocal about how this project will ruin Halloween for the rest of you, I want to share with you some thoughts I have about this whole thing.

  1. My son goes out trick-or-treating because it’s a tradition. He enjoys wearing a costume and running from house to house with his friends collecting treats. Just like you and I did as kids. Remember that? Remember what fun it was? Running between houses. Laughing and joking. Comparing the haul scored from one house to the next. The experience of it was so fun. No, I will not strip my son of that experience because he was born with something he has no control over. Just as I would not expect a child in a wheelchair or with Cystic Fibrosis or Down Syndrome to miss out. NO.
  1. Every year, at the end of the trick-or-treating night, we go through Z’s candy haul very carefully. He knows that the only candy he will be able to keep are the items for which we can read a label and verify the safety of the food. Yes, we take the responsibility on ourselves. We do not expect you to be the responsible party. It is our job, and it gives Z a chance to work through making excellent life choices of what to keep and what to give away for his safety’s sake.
  1. The Teal Pumpkin Project was created to include kids with food allergies, but can be extended to all kids. What kid doesn’t like to wear a glow necklace or bracelet when out trick-or-treating? Kids with Diabetes have to be careful of their sugar intake; so offering up non-food items is also a score for them. Trinkets and toys often last far longer than candy, anyway. Most candy scored on Halloween ends up donated or trashed, so what’s the point of fighting for candy if it’s going to end up in the dumpster anyway?

Here’s the deal: the Teal Pumpkin Project is voluntary. If you join in—especially as a member of the “normal” world—we will love you for it. If you don’t—it’s okay. Really.

This is what it boils down to: I don’t expect this of you—none of us do—but I appreciate it more than you know. Because I know that even if you haven’t walked in my shoes and experienced the heart-stopping moments of handling your child’s allergic reactions, you get it. You get it. You understand that we’re all in this crazy world together. And if it wasn’t our food allergies, it might be your child’s ADHD, and if it wasn’t that, it would be something else.

We all have our “thing,” so let’s bind together as a community for each other. That, my friend, is a rare and precious gift in our world today. And I don’t take it lightly; neither should you.


PS. Check out our post about ideas for handling Halloween with food allergies.

Tiffany Self

Tiffany Self is a wife, mom to "Z", and a lover of words. In an ironic twist, she is an English class dropout who now writes for a living. Tiffany is a freelancer in the Chicago suburbs by way of Seattle and Southern Oregon. She writes about her journey of parenting a child with multiple severe food allergies, asthma, and environmental allergies. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

214 Comments to In Defense of the Teal Pumpkin Project: You’re Looking at it Wrong

  1. You know, I grew up with food allergies too and like many of the super angry commenters mentioned above, I trick or treated and picked out what I couldn’t have. You know it, it was heart wrenching not to be able to go through my candy bag myself, so that my Mom could take out everything I couldn’t have and wipe down the remaining candy packages with an alcohol swab . It sucked to have my pillow case full of treats reduced to cereal bowl.

    It’s not that hard to buy candy that’s nut free (or even to grab one or two and put up a sign saying to ask) – especially since candy companies have started putting that giant red symbol on their packages. It’s not that pricey to pick up a few packs of Halloween favours at the Target. (Bless the $1 section.) I’m not saying that every house has to cater to kids with food allergies, but DANG IT, to those who do? I love you and I you have my undying gratitude because I know what it would have meant to me as a kid…and that’s priceless.

    • Tiffany Self

      Yes, Jodi! I can imagine that was so hard for you as a kid. And you’re right, the ones that do and are so generous in sharing with kiddos that have allergies, they’re heroes in our book.

      • Misty

        The Teal Pumpkin Project is a fantastic idea. My son, who is 4, has Colitis. He is on a very restricted diet, and he can not have candy at all, nor other food treats. This project will allow him to not only participate in Halloween, but to be able to enjoy something he gets. It’s heartbreaking to see him not get anything he can keep. I really appreciate this project! ?

      • CJ

        Hi, I don’t have a child with allergies, but have friends who do. One thing what would help (and that I’ve asked of parents) is what kind of candy (specifically) is something that they could have? For one family that was DumDum lollipops and possibly Skittles – can’t remember.

        Thanks for any help!

      • Erin D

        You were TOO NICE blocking their identity. They posted on a public forum CALL THEM OUT!!! Spoken by a mother of a child with Systemic Mastocytosis. Especially the ‘parents make this up so they can talk about the rarity on FB’ I am floored by these people and thank God they are not my neighbors. OUR neighboorhood has joined the TPP AND I am proud to say we have a very large cluster of Teal dots on the Treat Map. Come to West Floral Park, Santa Ana if you’re nearby and we will treat you with respect and humanity!!!!

    • Krissy

      I grew up with food allergies myself. I truthfully feel that the way we, as parents, react to everything is how we shape our children’s view of things. My parents did an amazing job of never making me feel like I was “missing out” on anything, I felt like I was privileged to have the “special treats” that no one else did. I personally never would have wanted my class to suffer because I couldn’t have the cupcakes for someone’s birthday. I had my “special” treat that everyone else actually wanted. It’s important to keep in mind that just as we do as parents when our kids fall and look to us for our reaction, the “you’re ok!” Reaction does wonders – even if they’re not ok, thinking they are is important. Teaching our kids that they have a short coming, and that’s OK is a huge lesson in morality. And also learning limits about what they can and can’t do isn’t “unfair” it’s life, they’re living with something and it sucks, but in the end, it will make them stronger to accept it rather than have everyone cater to it.

      • Patsy

        Krissy you are sooooo right! I couldn’t have said it better myself. We all have things we have to deal with. I understand as parents we don’t want our children to be unhappy or feel left out. HOWEVER, we need to put our feelings aside and do what’s best for them. I have family members who have life threatening allergies to tree nuts. We can’t make them live in a bubble, life isn’t that way. I understand the deal of incouraging people to provide nut free-treats. I also understand we cannot expect the world to be responsible for keeping them safe. That’s just not going to happen. We as individuals can do things to help but children need to be trained to look through their candy etc. How well will they function as adults in dealing with their allergy if they never have to do so as children. We have to strike a balance between what we do as a society and what we do as parents. :)

        • Joyce Johnson

          Ican;t believe the nasty comments and inconsiderant ppl. We aren’t asking for much , but consider the little ones too young to understand their allergies. They don’t understand why they can’t have all the yummy foods. I bet your attitudes would change if you had a child with these allergies.Can you imagine worrying constantly your child might be given a food that could possibly kill them. Have a heart PEOPLE !!

          • Claudia

            Thank you Joyce! I was one of those people who thought you just don’t eat things with nuts, peanuts whatever you are allergic too. But when you are dealing with a LIFE THREATENING Allergy the hours and time that families have to spend making sure what they are feeding their family food that doesn’t have any of the allergens in, hasn’t been made, packaged or processed in a facility with any chance of cross contamination takes not just hours but days and months!! As a Grandmother of a adorable, rambunctious 3 year old grandson with not one but 4 life threatening severe food allergies I can tell you it is anything but easy. point in fact last Christmas I was trying to make cookies that were safe for my family so I emailed a company to ask them if there were any of the allergens in their products, I just received the answer a month ago about a year later. You know what I still appreciate that they checked their processing packaging and all their facilities to make sure it was safe but believe me as I am finding out this is very much the norm for many many companies that I have contacted. So people paint some Teal Pumpkins and have those non food items available for these darling little children that their parents are just trying to keep safe and alive.

          • tiffany

            I have a cousin who is now 23 and has a sever peanut allergy and this was before “awareness” of allergies and he is fine and my aunt and uncle didn’t expect anyone but themselves to take care of what he ate my husband cant have milk or any dairy or some vegetables that break down to lactose he has galactacemia and he is 30 i think they had soy milk while he was growing up but it was rear and expensive anyway I cook everything he eats and if I don’t cuz we go out to eat we call ahead and ask all the necessary questions and all that even if we go to a family party I always make him a meal to eat there or before we leave cuz it’s such an uncommon thing but as he was growing up he parents had to be diligent cuz he could have eaten a cookie his friends gave him and died but he still went to parties and what not and ya they had cake and crap he couldn’t eat but so what people have to get over it no I didn’t have deal with it while he was a child but I understand the feelings that if someone makes a mistake he couldn’t get really sick and die but I don’t think it’s right for parents with children with allergies to expect other people to change anything about what they do or try to make people feel guilty cuz they want to give out a certain kind of candy I will have a teal pumpkin cuz I want to

            • Jessica

              How about you ask your husband how he would have felt if about 1/3 of the houses he went to had something he could keep. It’s VOLUNTARY, as in if you want to… it’s a way for people tend WANT to include all the kiddos to signal that their house has something safe. Why is that a bad thing, is empathy so terrible that you want to make sure children ever experience or get to kno it’s meaning.

              I see a lot of disenters mention secondary family as if they “understand”. You don’t. Have you ever heard your child rasping with a death like rattle as they try to force the air into (and out of) their lungs, the white rim of fear in their eyes, will the ambulance make it on time, if they feint from lack of air, will they ever wake again, if they do are they going to be perminatly damaged… Did you know an epipen isn’t always enough to keep someone till the real help arrives, and the first onset of the allergy can be the fatal one? If you have negative thoughts guess what, you are not obligated to share them, they won’t help the world be a better place and those who have life threatening allergies (not those that get a rash or diarrhea ) learn plenty to stay safe with out the rest of us saying tough luck kid.

          • Karen21242

            I know, seriously!? I mean have these people never had an allergy, like, ever?! I was fortunate enough to not (for the most part) have any food allergies but I have medicinal allergies and, like most people, I’m allergic to poison ivy but even I can realize how much it must suck to have to be so cautious! I mean, to be so callous and cruel, it’d be like having my brother deliver a bouquet with poison ivy in it and griping that they can’t handle it without ill side effects (my brother is not allergic to poison ivy).

        • Nick

          These are little fukin kids! nd I grew up with a life threatening allergy to nuts and and fuck u for saying kids need to know how to lok for this, i may have known when i was older but kids will be kids and alll kids love candy! An likr i said kids are kids, and every kids make mistakes , and for an adult to give a child something that could kill them, and a kid eat a piece of candy which every kid does, is like saying a kid should have known that the candy was poisoned just as a “normal” kid when he/she eats a piece of “laced” candy is like saying a parent should have known the gun would or wouldn’t go off..these are kids for gods sake, and if any of u had a child that had this allergy this would not even be a discussion. I honestly can’t believe this shit! Shame on any of you who don’t think this is relevant or nessasary , u give candy out cuz it makes kids happy…….why discriminate, if you could simply make them all happy!

          • tiffany

            Get over yourself so angry obviously they were not talking about toddlers and what not but their parents should know what there children are eating before they are old enough to know better to ask my children is six and before she went to school she wouldn’t eat a Damn thing unless a trusted adult told her it was ok and she doesn’t even have an alergy

        • Kristy

          For those with severe nut allergies, you can’t just pick out the things they can have from a mixed bag. Many times just touching an item with peanut oil is enough for a reaction. Maybe just step into that child’s shoes for a moment and think about how it feels to be left out of food based gatherings because of an allergy you were born with. It’s awful. Offering something besides junk food like toys is a good thing and doesn’t ruin anyone’s fun.

          • Rene

            My cousin has a severe nut allergy and just being within a certain number of feet or a closed space with other people who are eating something that contains nuts with set off a reaction in her. This past summer we were camping and my daughter was eating a PB&J sandwich and she walked up too close. She had to step away because her throat started to close up and she started having an asthma attack.

            My daughter has severe food allergies too, just not to nuts. I have had to deal with her school every single year, providing benadryl, epi-pens, signed plans from her doctors, list upon list of her allergies and alternative food options. She brings her lunch to school because it’s “easier than dealing with the school lunches.” This, however, is Halloween, it’s supposed to be fun. Don’t take that from them. Let them enjoy it.

      • tiffany

        Great response

    • Joy

      It’s so much easier to be kind than not. It’s truly not hard to buy something that everyone can have, and my kids are always excited to be the house that hands out non-candy items. This year, we’re handing out microwave popcorn, little toys, and pencils. Every kid gets the same thing, no one is left out, and no one feels weird or different at our house. Even the teenagers ;)

  2. Katie

    This was an amazing article, and thank-you so much for posting it! My son is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts and when I heard about the Teal Pumpkin Project it brought so much joy to my heart. To bring awareness to all food allergies is such an awesome thing. I love how you combated some of the negative comments by saying that by no means is anyone forcing anyone to do this.

    I make sure to buy candy I know my son can have and I am also going to get some non-food items to hand out as well. I would think as a parent people would like the idea that there would be some other goodies to get. Children get so much candy on Halloween that it is a welcome change to get something a little different! It is not hurting anyone. People take such offense to this and I do not understand why. What is wrong with bringing awareness to food allergies and also to show some support to people in your neighborhood?

    One of the comments struck me as funny too. If they knew someone with a nut allergy and they said not to eat anything with nuts in it, well that doesn’t cut it. It’s not that black and white. They could still be made on shared equipment, and that is why we must read everything.

    I just wanted to say thank-you for writing this. It warms my heart!

    • Tiffany Self

      Thanks Katie, I appreciate you stopping by and sharing!

  3. This is me, slow-clapping for this post! EXCELLENT job, Tiffany — you’ve summarized the rage I’ve been feeling when I read nasty comments about this wonderful project!

    • Tiffany Self

      Thank you, Heather! Means a lot coming from you!

  4. Sarah

    Ok. Wow. first off let me say, I don’t have any known allergies, and I don’t have kids with allergies. (I read this blog cuz I <3 semiproper) that being said, let me also say I don't celebrate Halloween either…. but even with all that, I just don't understand the hate people are spewing! whyyyyyyyyyy?!? when I read about this project i thought "Hey, that's awesome!! And teal is such a pretty color,too! Good choice!" anyway, I hate haters. so I just wanted to let you know. if I celebrated Halloween, I would totally do the teal pumpkin project. Because it's the right thing to do. We don't just look out for ourselves! that's not the way the world should work!!!!!!! DO WE WANT WORLD PEACE OR NOT, PEOPLE?!? (puts away soapbox) anyway, I may have made some overstatements or generalizations in that little rant, but the principle remains. I support common courtesy and kindness. Especially towards kids.

    • Tiffany Self

      *because it’s the right thing to do.* I think we could be friends, Sarah. Thank you!

    • Nick

      Means a lot coming from someone who grew up with this allergy.

  5. Sue

    What I find most amazing about the reaction to the Teal Pumpkin project is all the virulence against parents, implying that we’re “making it up” for attention. Your headline hits this issue sqarely on the head: they’re looking at it all wrong!

    Many of these antagonistic comments begin with “When I was a kid…” Well you know what? Yeah! When I was a kid, there *were* far fewer food allergies. But, doesn’t that make you scratch your head about what’s happening? To our food, to our environment, with our dependence on highly processed, chemical laden convenience foods? What are these things doing to our sociey? Food allergies, childhood obesity, increased diabetes… all dramatically on the rise. Let’s not blame parents for protecting their children, for goodness sake. That’s just a reaction to something that’s actually happening. Instead, let’s turn our gaze to the *reasons* this is happening, and place the blame appropriately.

    The Teal Pumpkin Project merely suggests that IF we plan to give out non-food items for whatever reason (and any of them I mentioned might be a reason), we place a little visual cue. That’s it.

    Yeah, 30+ years ago (a lady doesn’t divulge her age), I could also walk around my neighborhood in a Halloween costume and not worry about it a bit. Crime, killer food, whatever… who had heard about it? But it’s not the 70s or 80s anymore, however much we’d like it to be. We need to face what’s happening NOW, because now is when our children are growing up.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      I always think it’s funny when people say things like “When I was a kid, we never had carseats, and we ended up fine.” The people who didn’t aren’t alive to say otherwise. And agree, allergies are getting worse, not getting better, and as awareness spreads, hopefully empathy will along with it.

    • Cher

      Actuallly, as the entire population increases, all diseases naturally will increase too. Just cuz there’s more people!

  6. Denise LeBlanc

    I’m sorry, but as with most of the projects that treat children with allergies as though they are different, or special, or whatever term you prefer, I think a major point is being missed. With every house you skip while other children run up happily, or other kids get candy while yours gets a toy or toothbrush or whatever, you take that step closer to creating a child with a perfect victim complex.

    I had a peanut allergy at a time when schools didn’t act like the nut was a small terrorist device (I am 42). I survived. My parents had me well trained to deal with what was MY issue. Did they ask anyone to help? Small things. If I went to a birthday party they would call ahead so that the parent didn’t feed me cake with PB icing. This is something I only found out about in recent years.

    The best thing my parents did was to NOT make my allergy a big deal. There was no alarmism, no freaking out, no ‘OMG IF YOU TOUCH THAT YOU DIE’. I knew what to do, which at that time didn’t even involve an epipen. I didn’t expect other people to care for me.

    So while I understand the good intentions behind such initiatives, I fear for the children who are going to grow up with the ‘poor me’ mentality of not being treated like everyone else when they certainly could be.

    • Kara Markley

      Isn’t saying things like “teach your child to be responsible and not eat that Reese’s Cup,” like saying we should teach our children(at a young) age to not run into the street, jump into a pool etc. and TRUSTING they won’t. We TRY to teach our children things, but they don’t always listen. Hence the responsibility of protecting children with allergies! People are ignorant…

      • Nessa

        I don’t think it was meant in the way that you are taking it. First let me say that my child does not have any known food allergies as of yet., therefore I don’t know first hand the struggle of having a child with a severe food allergy. However, I do know first hand the struggle of dealing with a parent of a child with a food allergy and I have to day this person has had a very negative impact in my mind. While there does need to be some changes made in a classroom setting you can’t expect the other children in the class to not have something because your child can’t, to me that’s just not fair. I do believe that children should have some responsibility for their allergies (at an appropriate age) I do also agree there needs to be a level of supervision as well. Let’s face it kids will be kids. I think that there is always that one person who takes things way too far and puts a bad taste in everyone mouth. This awareness project I think is very much geared to only food allergies and that’s fine there are a million and one awareness things out there so everyone is entitled to have an awareness that they feel passionately about and that means something special to them. Realistically there are houses on Halloween that give out toys, change ect. And that was before the teal pumpkin. People need something to complain about all the time but let’s face it people these are children the future of our country let’s all play nice !!

    • Sheri

      “didn’t even involve an epipen”
      I have kids in my class who WILL die if someone even opens a butterfinger. They don’t have to eat it or even touch it…it can and will stop their ability to breathe. I had a student who ha anaphylaxis from a bath bomb that had milk products in it. Allergies were not the same even twenty years ago. It’s not fair to judge people for protecting their children.

      • Denise LeBlanc

        Sheri – Sorry, but research shows that a child will not go into anaphylaxis when they smell a peanut. Anaphylaxis is caused by exposure to a particular protein in the nut and this protein is not present in scent particles. It CAN cause allergic reactions but not anaphylaxis. This is a little bit of what I am referring to—alarmism. While I understand it, it is simply not the reality. Doctor’s will say ‘stay away from the smell’ but the reason behind that, if they know their stuff, is that if you are close enough to smell it you are likely close enough to have accidental contact on a desk etc. And with all due respect, do not assume to know what I went through with allergies/asthma/eczema simply because it was so long ago. Trust me, it wasn’t fun.

        Tiffany – I appreciate what you do, but I just want to show the other side of the coin. I am that allergy (not only peanuts, also allergic to common things like animals and moulds and the SUN) / asthma / eczema kid all grown up and who is so very grateful to my parents for how they raised me—with an attitude that I could do anything anyone else could do and I could take care of myself.

        I am not referring to the people mentioned here, but I have definitely witnessed ‘bubble wrap parenting’ where the child is basically taught that the rest of the world will take care of them because they are somehow special. The fact is that most children will at some point in their lives have an exposure. I have had many. Parents can take 2 approaches—’this is how we deal’ or ‘OMG YOU’LL DIE’! There were definitely moments when I was growing up that I felt ‘different’ and it sucked. If I had had parents who fed that then I really believe I would have ended up a different person and I like that I am strong, independent and capable. All I want is to give parents something to think about that may temper a well meaning alarmism when the fear creeps in.

        • Ame

          That is interesting. I have actually witnessed my aunt start having an allergic reaction bexause she walked into a restaurant where they were COOKING with peanut oil in the back. She hadn’t sat at a table, hadn’t eaten anything, hadn’t even opened the door (her hubby opened it for her.) Yet she still had a reaction. And it wasn’t like the room was filled with fryer smoke or anything. Just sayin what I saw.

        • angel

          You’re also not considering the hundreds of children who did die during those years and all the children that were not allowed to attend the school systems due to the risk they posed. I did not have my allergies diagnosed until I was older but we still had to watch everything I did and ate. I was only admitted into school if I could be placed in a “safe” area to eat. Most of the time that meant the principal’s office. My daughter can now play with friends go outside and enjoy eating out because some people are voluntarily courteous enough to watch what they offer. That’s all I ask, otherwise I work around the rest. However, I consistently have to defend her 2 yo self against people who don’t even think she should be allowed to be with “normal children”.

    • Tiffany Self

      Hi Denise, thanks for weighing in. We’ll be taking our 8 year-old out to trick-or-treat this year, just as we have done every year since he was old enough to hang during those hours. We’ll do just as I said in the post, he’ll go to all the doors and knock, and at the end of the night, we’ll go through and he can keep the safe candy. Easy peasy. The teal pumpkin is just a visual clue that there are safe items for food allergic kids there. I don’t think that raising awareness (like all other causes do to some extent–remember the ice bucket challenge?) is the same as enabling a child to take on the victim mentality. I, too, do the same thing your parents did when you went to birthday parties. The difference is, I do it in full view and earshot of my son so he can learn the things to say when I’m not around and he needs to clarify for himself what foods are safe or not. I hope you’ll read this carefully–I don’t think the project is enabling victimization, I fully believe it WILL raise awareness. And, awareness is a great thing, especially when the rates are skyrocketing like they are for food allergies.

      • Denise LeBlanc

        Awareness is fantastic, but it needs to be awareness of facts. Not alarmism about what is claimed to be a death sentence.

        • Roo Ciambriello

          Who’s being an alarmist, Denise? We’re teaching our kids to be aware. We’re showing them how to manage their allergies. We’re asking (not demanding) that the community to be inclusive. Your comments come across as being unnecessarily combative and critical.

          “I’m sorry, but” is 1) usually never sincere and 2) mostly followed with a wildly offensive comment.

          • Denise LeBlanc

            While the bulk have not been, I do feel that there have been alarmist comments made. I’m sorry if I am coming across as combative. That is certainly not my intent. But this is something I feel strongly about based on my own experience. When I said, “Sorry, but” it was followed by factual information that can easily be verified. I certainly never meant it to be offensive.

            • Christine

              I’ll do you one better.

              I am essentially allergic to protein. This is nothing made up, however it’s a disease 99% of the population has never heard of, called MSUD.

              Protein is toxic to me and since I can not break it down, it builds up in my blood and is fatal.

              I grew up feeling ASHAMED of my disease, so ashamed that I would walk out of the room if people would talk about it in front of me. I felt like my entire life was a burden to everyone and it killed me knowing my teachers and other adults at my school were aware of my condition. When kids eventually found out about it, they ridiculed me mercilessly. THAT is what happens when there is no awareness. Children feel ashamed of their existence, the burden their life is on everyone. It kept me socially isolated and made me feel abnormal. THAT is what your posts are saying. That you, someone with an allergy, would rather these kids blend in without any awareness or intervention whatsoever, simply because it’s something you find teaches them to be “victims”. Well as someone who has lived with a disease every day since I was born, I can tell you firsthand that had there been this kind of awareness maybe I wouldn’t have felt so damn alone and ashamed. I wouldn’t have hidden myself from the world because I would have felt like I wasn’t a freak, I was just me and that’s perfectly fine!

        • Shover Robot

          It isn’t just a claim that a kid could die from their allergy, it’s a real thing. While it is rare a child will die, even a mild allergy can mean hives, rashes, trips to the ER. Here’s a couple examples from articles around the web:

          A 13-year-old girl died from one bite of a Rice Krispies treat that she spat out. A 19-year-old guy died from a eating half a cookie made with peanut oil, which he had been told had no peanut ingredients. Same guy, when younger his inhaler fell into a pile of acorns — that contact caused his throat to start closing up.

          An 11-year-old bit into a peanut butter-filled pretzel, also spat it out. He was injected with EpiPen but not fast enough, went into cardiac arrest and was airlifted to hospital, but didn’t survive.

          These stories happened between March and July, 2013.

          • Denise LeBlanc

            I have never said that it could not be fatal. I have experienced anaphylaxis reactions on several occasions and was treated and recovered quickly. What I meant is that it is not a death sentence, meaning the clock isn’t ticking because of your child’s diagnosis. What I said was alarmist is the notion that one sniff of peanuts and a person will die. The protein that causes an anaphylaxis reaction is not present in the scent molecules. The bigger issue is that if you are close enough to smell it you are close enough to have inadvertent contact.

            • Tiffany Self

              Denise–I understand where you are coming from. And, honestly, my son is ingestion-only (so far) allergic to his allergens. However, I think the world of food allergies is not only expanding at a crazy rate, it’s also changing so fast the research can’t keep up with it. I know two families who’ve had children have anaphylactic reactions–one to contact of the allergen, and one to just being in the room (across the room) when a bag of peanuts was open. I agree, this is very rare, and past research doesn’t hold up for airborne reactions. But, learning what I’ve learned from these families, I absolutely believe that allergies are morphing to the point that some people are experiencing anaphylaxis via airborne particles. Rare? Yes. Impossible? No. Unfortunately. And maybe this is where some of the “bubble wrapping” comes in.

              There are many things I don’t understand, but after becoming a mom, I’ve decided I just can’t judge others for the choices they make in raising their kids. Because I just haven’t been in their shoes. Time will tell, I guess. Thanks for the conversation and for showing that fa kids can be strong and make it on their own!

              • Mo

                Another issue I frequently see is: People with allergies need to bulid up a tolerance.
                This is a MYTH. Allergens are not alcohol. By frequently drinking alcohol, your tolerance can (usually) increase to a point where you can drink more and stronger drinks with less “drunkenness”. The same is NOT true of allergies. In fact, it is just the opposite: more exposures mean steeper consequences. What may have simply been red splotches on the skin at first exposure could easily evolve into severely itchy or burning skin at second or third exposure, and swollen throat/tongue/lips at fourth or fifth exposure.

                I am allergic to fish- not shellfish, but fish with fins. This includes fish oil (in fact, my old roommate used to love cooking with fishoil as it is healthier than other oil). However, if I was even in the house (even second floor) when she cooked with this, my skin and face begin to burn. If I left my room or opened my door and breathed in the air, I instantly needed my epi-inhaler, like 5 or 6 benadryl, and immediate removal from the environment.

                A friend of mine could not be in the room with an open jar or bag of peanuts- the oil does get into the air particles, and because his allergy was so severe, he would have major reactions, including anaphylaxsis.

                My other friend has a four year old who is allergic to chocolate. First exposure- spots on her skin at 2 y/o. Second, coughing and trouble breathing somewhere around 3 y/o because a family member made something with white chocolate in it and nobody realized it until after. She has yet to have a 3rd because she knows not to touch anything that even looks like it might be chocolate and both her parents and her older sister are hyper-vigilant. However, they just moved to Texas and hopefully, people in their new area will do Teal Pumpkins because they have nobody in Austin that knows she needs alternatives. Otherwise, it’s just another fun day to dress up and collect candy she cannot enjoy.

                My daughter was given scrambled eggs despite warnings from her doctors to avoid any of my allergens (due to possible passing of anitbodies through breastfeeding) because I am allergic to eggs. She was 6 months old and her grand mother snuck her a few bites of her cousins breakfast while I went to pick up my sister in law’s kids from school. I came back to find my baby covered in red spots (she looked like a baby cheetah!). Her second exposure (also courtesy of grandma, insisting she’d “outgrown it” by a year old- left her coughing and barking for air- fortunately children’s benedryl was enough. She now has an epi-pen just in case, and we do everything we can to make sure she gets nothing with eggs- her dad only eats egg sandwiches or fried rice when he is not with us because she is 3 and likes to taste our food.

                If my neighborhood does do trick-or-treating (I’m trying to find out now- because we moved to Texas where many people either only do the “Trunk or Treat” or have community events at rec centers), I will be more than happy to put up a teal pumpkin. Why not offer toys and some candy options? Toys (rings, glow sticks, etc) are cheaper than snickers anyway…..

                • Linda Doyle

                  And terrible for the environment

          • Linda Doyle

            Hmm. Better not get in a car – I could post tons of examples of fatalities. Getting all worked up doesnt help you or your child.

    • JLynn

      I so agree! My daughter has multiple food allergies, peanut and tree nut being the worst. We’ve taught her to ask questions, never eat food she’s unsure of, and always have a back up food source with her. We don’t freak out, we don’t expect people to bend over backwards for her. WE deal with it, we don’t expect everyone else to deal with it and change. There are several times I’ve received calls asking what she can and can’t eat for school parties, and it always make me tear up that people choose to include her….out of the kindness of there hearts! No one is going to coddle her when she grows up, I believe it should be more about teaching the child how to be safe rather than trying to make schools peanut free, and changing what people hand out for Halloween. She’s 8, and she’s known since she was 2 that we look through her candy before she eats anything. I’ve watched her have a reaction to PB before we knew about her allergy, and it wasn’t fun. We’ve taken ambulance rides before we knew she was allergic to cats… we know to avoid houses with cats. We didn’t ask people to get rid of there cats! Carry a pack of wet wipes to wipe down tables and chairs, don’t borrowthings from people, don’t eat food you’re unsure of…’s all a matter of educating the parent and child.

      • Denise LeBlanc

        We are of one mind. :)

      • Tiffany Self

        Wonderful! Thanks for sharing, JLynn! Education goes a long way.

      • Christie

        I agree with you JLynn, in that we need to teach our children to live in a world with their allergen(s). My son is 9 and for some time now has been very good at saying “no thank you” when he can’t eat something.
        Unfortunately, not everyone accepts the “no thank you” well. We’ve experienced nasty looks from givers while trick or treating, like perhaps the kids were just being picky and rude. Birthday party hosts seem to often believe he is being shy, so they try to push the cake on him when he says “no thanks”. We’ve dealt with a few eye rolls when we attempt to check labels while away from home.
        My hope for the teal pumpkin project is that it will make people think on Halloween night. Even if they choose not to participate, at least maybe it will make them realize that not every treat works for every kid and they will be able to better understand the child who says “no thank you”.

        • Cher

          I love (sarcastic) how some people don’t want to let me look at nutrition labels because “it’s just fruit snacks” or “it’s just popcorn!” Yes, I know. Now can I please look at it?! ;-) Mine isn’t for allergies though. My son has diabetes so he needs medication based on the amount of carbs he eats. (And yes, he can have sugar!)

        • Linda Doyle

          So interesting. That hasnt been my experience in dealing with this. Im just suggesting (at the risk of offending but meaning to help) that you rethink how you are coming across. And yes I have a child with allergies so dont accuse me of not understanding.

      • Candice

        Your comment needs a “love” button.

    • Kayla

      First of all I’m sorry that you have a food allergy and feel this way. There are many people that obviously have a worst peanut allergy than you. They can not breath it without going into anaphylaxis shock. Any kind of exposure can cause them to have a reaction. Second, take my nephew for instance he has multiple food allergies. Milk, soy, oat, and rice. Do you know how hard it is to find candy safe for my nephew? Rice syrup and flour is used in multiple fruit and gummy candies which leaves very little that is safe for him. If it doesn’t have a label it goes in the trash. The point of this is for people to have an option, no they are not only giving out non-food items. They can still give out regular candy all they want, they just have something safe for children who have allergies.

      • Denise LeBlanc

        It is not a competition. My doctors have told me my peanut allergy is as severe as they have seen. Why you have a need to infer that I must not understand is beyond me. As I have said repeatedly, airborne anaphylaxis has never resulted in a single death because research has shown that the protein required for anaphylaxis to take place is not present. It may cause an allergic reaction, but not anaphylaxis. The reason doctors advise to stay away from the smell is because of the risk of contamination if you are close enough to smell it. If you take nothing else away, take this, because panic does no one any good.

        My heart definitely goes out to your nephew.

        I concede. Yay Teal Pumpkin Campaign. Woo hoo. But I would ask parents out there to PLEASE read JLynn’s comment.

        • Roo Ciambriello

          Her comment reflects a lot of what everyone on the Scratch or Sniff team believes, Denise. Do we expect people to bend over backwards for our kids? No. Do we expect our neighbors to eagerly grab teal paint and join along? No.

          Are we excited that there are people without food-allergic children that want to help our kids feel included? You bet. Live and let live, Denise, damn.

        • Sarah

          I do not have children with food allergies, but I read the article and all the comments with interest. What I don’t see is the need for debate.

          Is it true that if people hand out non-food treats as an option for children with allergies that it will automatically result in those children growing up to be whiny powerless adults with victim mentalities who believe the world has to protect them? Why go there!?

          Children are absolutely capable of understanding that the people who put teal pumpkins in their yards are nice people who want to do something considerate, unselfish, and thoughtful for children in their community. Just because they want to.

          I imagine that parents can continue to teach their children to choose carefully what they are exposed to, and at the same time graciously accept their neighbors’ kind gesture.

          (Having said all that, while we’re at it, why don’t we start another movement in which we paint a pumpkin green signifying we are not handing out candy at all because, sadly, the sugar, corn syrup, food coloring, and all the other ingredients in candy are so very bad for us :)

          • Camille

            I completely agree with you! Why the hate or the debate either way? Do it if you want to, or don’t. Right? It’s not a big deal. Surely nobody would expect this treatment. But for those who chose to, that’s great! I teach my son very well. He doesn’t want the things that would hurt him. But it is really considerate. There was one year that the majority of what he got was chocolate and didn’t get to keep much of it. But it really was okay. I was glad that he didn’t have so much candy at the same time. But seriously- why do so many people have such strong opinions on this? Do you really have nothing bigger to worry about? I’m thankful for warm water. I’m thankful that I didn’t die of the blood clots I had my lungs a couple months ago. There are so many other things to worry about. Be nice, guys! It’s just Halloween…

        • Joyce Johnson

          Denise, do you actually believe that there are parents out there that aren’t educating their children ? They are just trying to make everyone aware.

          • Denise LeBlanc

            I believe that there are only about 3 people here who have understood my message. This is why I referred to JLynn’s post. She stated what I mean really well.

        • Lizzi

          Actually, people have died from anaphylactic reactions to the proteins in particles of peanut in the air, or even just breathing in particles of flavouring salt that was used on flavoured peanuts. See the three independent articles below, from various sources, and enlighten yourself, please:

          (girl who died after anaphylactic shock induced when a man opened a packet of nuts on a plane)

          (allergy website’s information sheet on anaphylaxis)

          (Allergic Living’s article on reactions to airborne protein – N.B. “it’s rare” means “it happens”)

          • Denise LeBlanc

            I wouldn’t answer except that you spoke to me in a rather patronizing manner.

            – In the first article, the child did not die as you said. And as is so often the case with airplanes, there is no way to know if she had manual contact with oil or crumbs from a previous flight. The Daily Mail is not a reliable source so to be honest the facts of the case are questionable. It is right that they attempted to stop people from eating nuts on the flight, but to minimize the risk in every way.

            – The second article doesn’t quote cases.

            – “these reactions might occur only in an enclosed area and with large amounts of peanut dust stirred up in the air, and should not occur with a few peanut shells scattered on the ground, or with one or two people eating peanut next to you.”
            These are situations in which there IS contact, because the protein is thick in the air. Not because of a single chocolate bar etc.

            I am not going to start throwing articles back and forth. We all know that the internet can provide backup for pretty much any opinion. This got so off track. My point—and some of you got this—was to state that there is something lost when one crosses the line from concerned and protective parent to reactionary and alarmist. Only the kids lose. That’s all.

    • Gail

      I actually agree. I think the project in theory sure it seems like they had good intentions but it doesn’t teach children to deal with allergies. Not to mention not even being able to be allowed to run up to every house would totally suck. It’s like you’d only have to look for the teal pumpkin houses (which who really knows how many there will be) just teach your kids to know how to handle their allergy, no one later in life is going to hold their hand and make sure no one offers them food they can’t have. Like I said, seems like they had good intentions but I just think it’d be worse for the poor kid who won’t even be allowed to go to every house and at least show off their costume (regardless of they eat the candy or not)

      • Roo Ciambriello

        Sure it teaches kids to deal with allergies. People are concerned that somehow we’re coddling food-allergic children by putting a teal pumpkin on door steps, but they have PLENTY of opportunities, every single day, to be reminded that they’re different and deal with allergies.

        Many food-allergic children can give account of going to a party and not being able to have cake; going to school and having to sit isolated; going to a friend’s house and not being able to eat cookies his mom just baked. This is one holiday where people are (gloriously) just trying to make it a little easier for others.

        • Camille

          I love this comment. It is so true. There are opportunities everyday! I think it’s just a nice little extra thing to do.

        • Mo

          I agree, it definitely teaches them how to deal with allergies. Teal pumpkins are like the “PEANUT FREE PRODUCT” or “GLUTEN FREE PRODUCT” label on all types of things. It’s just a pretty colored pumpkin in stead of giant words on a brightly colored portion of a package. It gives them a “this is safe” signal. While I still read the labels on these packages, it at least tells me what is even worth picking up vs. what to just keep walking past…..The same with the pumpkins….

      • Tiffany Self

        Hi Gail, we actually will continue to go to every house as we’ve done for the past six years. I think this would be a really great thing for families with little kiddos who can’t hang for more than just a few houses. If, when my son was two, this project had been around, I totally would have looked for just the teal pumpkin houses so that our 15-20 minutes would be spent going to houses where I know I wouldn’t have to take his candy away from him at the end of the night.

      • Camille

        I have to disagree with you on one thing Gail. There are plenty of teaching opportunities everyday for my son. He says “no thank you,” every time a classmate brings a birthday treat. I have never expected special treatment and he has more self-control than any kid I’ve ever seen because of it. I just think this is a nice gesture of those choosing to participate. I don’t know why people are so concerned with the “lesson” there is to learn in something like this. It’s Halloween. We will go to lots of houses and he still won’t be eating much of what he gets. I don’t think anyone should be debating either way. There are so many bigger issues in life than a teal pumpkin.

      • Cher

        Children with allergies can be isolated from a lot of things. What’s wrong with teaching them- you’re not the only one! There are other people out there that have to deal with the same thing! Having a life-threatening allergy can and does cause depression and suicide in teens because they ARE isolated. There are people who make fun of them and blame them for “I can’t bring peanuts to school because of freaks like you.” What’s wrong with teaching kids there ARE compassionate people? What’s wrong with showing them that not everyone is a nasty bully?

      • Cher

        Actually Camille’s comment reminded me of my son’s 6th birthday party when he invited someone with celiac. I made GF cupcakes, even though his mom insisted I didn’t need to because she kept some in the freezer for birthday parties so he could have one when he came home. I told her I didn’t mind and did it anyway. She called me afterwards just bawling. She said her son came home and was just so excited he got to eat what everyone else had! For the first time in his life, he felt “normal.” He wasn’t excluded. For once, he wasn’t singled out. She DID teach her son to “deal with it.” At the age of 6, although “used to it,” it still SUCKED for him to go to birthday parties and be different from everyone! What’s wrong with helping kids out- just once?

    • Arkhmommy

      You are holding up your allergy experience as the bellwether. Have you ever thought that the severity of your allergy could differ from another? You had a peanut allergy as a kid and you dealt with it the way you dealt with it and you lived. Great. But there are children who go into respiratory arrest if they are in the same room as peanuts. So what worked for you might not even come close to working for someone else. Be careful of comparisons, they can sound judgmental.

    • Nick

      Wtf R u kidding! This kills kids and old ass 42 yr olds every day! And for u to act like oh well I was OK so screw uu, Ihonestly hope to god u or ur loved ones have a life or death situation that u have absolutely no control over and u can feel how we feel. And quite honestly I could care less if it turns out for the better or worse, ur parents taught u well so its your fault. And see how that shit feels. I hope u nevr have to go thru what some of us have had to go thru, God bless an FUCK U!

    • tiffany

      Love your comments

    • Cher

      It sounds like you don’t have the severity of an allergy like most peanut allergy sufferers do… My nephew has had anaphylactic responses from someone eating peanuts from across the table, so yeah- he was taught “OMG IF YOU TOUCH THAT YOU DIE” as you say. Because he very literally would.

      • Denise LeBlanc

        I have had several anaphylactic reactions from mere contact. I survived thanks to the hospital visits. So yeah, I do understand a sever reaction.

    • Chris

      Amen brother. Everyone is a victim these days, kids being bullied, kids failing, kids with allergies. Here’s to teaching your kids to cope with THEIR life, and teaching them to ask and make responsible choices…. WHILE supervising them to ensure they choose the right choices.

      Yay for more victims… My children will eat yours for breakfast in the real world.

  7. Cbz123

    When I posted the teal pumpkin project, one of my friends summarized it best. She was going to do this, not because HER kids have allergies (they don’t), but because EVERY KID DESERVES TO GET RANDOM TREATS. Before I had a food allergy kid, I always had alternative toys in the my candy basket to hand out… usually the toddler’s moms would thank me. By doing this (having both), I wasn’t chaging halloween, but making it more inclusive. I love the Teal pumpkin idea because it can let a kid know that there is something there for them… and it’s just that much more fun. (Just like how some kids are excited because a certain house is handing out their favorite candy… a kid with a dietary limitation can be excited that there is a “non-edible treat” for them). It doesn’t hurt anyone or anything to participate.

    • Tiffany Self

      YES. Exactly. Thank you.

  8. Jill

    What I love most about this project is the way we are helping everyone to be included . It shows these children that people do get it and it makes them believe even if for just one day the world isnt so cruel afterall . The young children dont understand why they cant have certain candies yet and having to wipe away the tears of a 3 yr old who just doesnt understand why he cant gave that while his cousins can is horrible. As he grows older he will understand . Teaching a child awareness of their own allergy is a lifelong process . The mere idea of this prohect brings a tear to my eyes and a smile to my heart . I wish others saw the signifigance it will have .

    • Tiffany Self

      They will, one day Jill! That’s why we work to educate and advocate. One person at a time!

  9. Kim Kirkorian

    It seems that another entirely crucial point of this is being missed. While this is directed at our Food Allergy kiddos and raises awareness (which is always good), this is such a nice alternative for ALL children. There are families that only do organic or no food coloring, in addition to the diabetic and foodles allergy kiddos. While the Mrs. Obama is changing our children’s lunch menus for healthier alternatives and physical fitness is emphasized more for all kids, what’s wrong with a non-food alternative…for those who want to participate of course.

    • Tiffany Self

      Absolutely, Kim! I only had so much room and so many points I could make, your response is spot on.

    • Cher

      Actually kids with type one diabetes love Halloween. Sugar is medicine and must be carried around at all times! It’s the equivalent of an epi-pen. Low blood sugar is life-threatening and the only cure for it is sugar! Insulin is the only treatment for type 1 diabetes, but insulin has a side effect of low blood sugar- which includes seizures, coma, and death!

  10. Dena Friedel

    So well stated. Thank you for this! I LOVE the way you summed it up! Perfect!

    • Tiffany Self

      Thank you, Dena!

  11. Leigh

    I just wanted to say I am excited about the teal pumpkin project. Our local pumpkin patch is also supporting the teal pumpkin project and is painting any pumpkin purchased from them teal at no extra charge. It makes me so happy to see a very popular local hotspot supporting non-food alternatives for kids (Lucky Ladd Farms – south of Nashville, TN).

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Wow, that is so wonderful, Leigh! What a cool business.

    • Tiffany Self


  12. Shover Robot

    The hostility towards this idea… I don’t get it. There is NO EXTRA WORK!

    Every Halloween, I fill about 6 large bowls with candy, separated by what they are. (One for peanut butter candy bars, one for wafer candy bars, one for fruity candy, etc.) It’s no extra work to buy toys and allergy-safe candy and put in their own bowls.

    I open the door, ask “any allergies/med?”, grab a couple pieces for each kid, drop into their bag. The bowls are indoors so the kids won’t know I gave the allergic kid something different. It makes the kid LESS singled out, not MORE. He’s not told “sorry, none for you!” and having his haul taken away.

    Let me say this again:
    – Ask “Any Allergies/Medical Issues?” If so, GRAB FROM A DIFFERENT BOWL

    • Shover Robot

      PS: I’ve new to this site, only saw this one article, but very glad I did. Definitely going to add allergy/med safe stuff to my Halloween shopping.

      Note: I have no kids or severe food allergies, and I’m not sure I know anyone who does. But I sure as heck don’t doubt a parent who says a Reese’s cup could wipe out their whole house.

      It’s just… It’s bad enough that the empty candy wrappers in my trashcan could bring great harm to a kid, but it’s adding insult to injury that they get singled out and excluded because of it. It’s so easy to accommodate these kids on Halloween — tiny changes for us, but to a kid it’s huge. It gives them the one thing they want most: NORMALCY.

      • Tiffany Self

        You are amazing! Thank you–on behalf of all the kiddos. You GET IT. Can I ask one question? What’s the med question for? I’d love to also be sensitive to that…if I’m missing something, I’d love to know.

        • Shover Robot

          :D Thank you! :D

          It’s just meant as “med” like Diabetes or can’t eat candy. Before I read comments (and only the article) I was only thinking about allergies, but since people expanded on other things, I wanted to include that.

          Asking will be somewhat light and casual… probably something like “is candy OK for everyone? Any allergies or anything?” They can give a quick yes or no, without going into detail. Ultimately, I want to make it as low-key as possible, so they can have the same Trick-or-Treat experience as their friends.

          • Cher

            Thank you for trying to include kids with diabetes! However- diabetic kids CAN have sugar!!! 95% of diabetics are type 2 and need to restrict all carbs. The 5% of type 1 diabetics usually are diagnosed as children. Because T2D is so popular, most people don’t have a clue what the differences are! T1D is autoimmune. My T1D husband and son can eat just like everyone else! The big difference is they count carbs and have insulin based on the amount of carbs.

            However, insulin (being the only treatment for T1D) has a life-threatening side effect of low blood sugar, to which the only treatment is… Sugar! So yes, diabetics actually NEED sugar. Like an epi-pen, it must be carried at all times. It acts quick and without it, they can die.

            Sugar free things don’t make sense- they still have carbs, so insulin is still needed. But- the sweetener used is a laxative. ?

  13. Dena

    I take 100% responsibility for educating my daughter regarding her allergies. I do not expect people to bend over backwards to accommodate her. The exact opposite is true, I expect the worst of people honestly. These comments support my stance in expecting the worst.
    In response to Denise’s comments – why can’t we ask people to voluntarily care for one another? I don’t think it is creating victims to ask people for support every now and then. We like the door held open for us occasionally don’t we? sometimes someone pays for my coffee in the starbucks drive thru and I really get excited. These are nice things. Since when does asking people to be nice and to care for one another become taboo and bad parenting? I’m not surprised by the nasty comments. People can really be rude. It’s our culture. I pray that one day our culture is one of support and caring rather than one that is individualist and self serving. I actually thank those mean commentors and I thank Denise for her comments. I use them regularly in my parenting. I show my daughter about the type of person I don’t want her to be. I want her to be supportive and kind to her fellow man. I want her to open the door for the person behind her. I want her to consider the dietary restrictions and preferences of her friends when she is planning a party. I want her to WANT to help people. Not necessarily because they are a perceived victim but because she wants to help. I take responsibility for her and she is learning to take responsibility for herself. That doesn’t mean acts of kindness aren’t appreciated.

    • Denise LeBlanc

      I think JLynn said it so perfectly when she spoke of how touched she is when people care for her child. Honestly, I am not saying there is anything wrong with reasonable caution, but there is a fine line between that and freaking out, and I hope that all can see that. Unfortunately, some things said show that the line is sometimes crossed. In those cases I feel the child suffers.

      I think it’s awesome to ask people to care for each other, but when a child’s well-being is at risk it is wrong to RELY on that care. This is why I think the onus falls on the parent or child.

      I guess this is not about Halloween for me. It is a bigger issue involving responsibility and weighing health care versus emotional well being. I still think JLynn has it right.

      • Tiffany Self

        Absolutely agree, Denise. I hope my post reflected exactly what you are saying: we teach our son to be responsible for his own allergies. We don’t expect others to bend over backwards for us. We, fortunately, live in an incredible community that watch out for my son like he is their own. Because of this, he leads a very “normal” life and rarely misses an opportunity. We do have to be creative sometimes, but that’s ok. And he’s learning it too. We’re definitely on the same team, here.

      • Beatrice

        Amen! Denise & Jlynn as a homeroom mom, when Inge notes not to serve “ANYTHING” without consulting me, it makes me wonder why I even signed up for this position. I have to avoid number allergies, gluten, dairy and what not. Seriously, so the 22 kids out of 24 without allergies can’t have a party because of two kids?! Really? Because that’s not the real world. And if you want to tell me what I can and can not serve, why arebt you room mom? Just saying…

        • Rachel

          How would you feel if one of your students died in front of you and you could have easily prevented it? I understand that it can feel overwhelming to have many restrictions and that it can be a pain in the butt to have to make a phone call that you don’t care to make. I don’t understand the hostility toward anyone who only wants to keep a child safe. When you make remarks such as these, it appears that you’re more upset about being told what to do than you are concerned about the lives of your students.

      • Oh my goodness, Denise, what are you not understanding about this? Whoever said they are relying on everybody else to keep their child safe? Who ever said they expect the world to bend over backwards to help them? NOBODY, that’s who. They are simply stating that if anyone, VOLUNTARILY, would like to include some non allergy/candy treats for their kid then they can. If they don’t want to, don’t do it. End of story!

        • tiffany

          That is not what everyone is saying some people try to make others feel guilty for not having allergy friendly foods there are radicals on both sides and I think both are wrong in a way people shouldn’t become angry when others don’t want to offer allergy friendly foods and people shouldn’t disregard allergies

    • Tara

      Exactly. Well said. When did compassion become so blame unfashionable?

  14. Thank you for a great post. The teal pumpkin is our ‘ice bucket challenge’. The awareness and education it is creating is invaluable and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with so many non-allergy families who also love the idea. Kim, you hit the nail on the head – this is a nice alternative for ALL children.

    • Tiffany Self

      Yes! Thanks, Heather.

  15. Claire

    I have food allergies, and this is awesome and all, great idea.
    But when I go trick or treating, I bet you, there will be NO teal pumpkins.
    And people try to make this sound like the only thing you can do is eat candy… Thats a joke. There are the costumes, the decorations, the fun, and just the season. Let’s face it. The people handing out candy are more concerned on what the costumes the kids will be wearing then actually what kids pick out.

    And too, I think its ridiculous to expect the world to revolve around kids with food allergies. I mean, some parents are freaking out about their fourteen year old’s trick or treating with food allergies!!! And even if you have really little kids who can’t make a good decision, you parents can seriously go to the door and guide your kids to the safe candy. Its not hard. At all. Or not even go! I mean seriously. The parents have so many options on what to do, and they yell at their neighbors for not handing out safe candy?!?!?

    I mean, anyway for me, Halloween sucks because my parents don’t even let me eat the safe candy in fear its cross contaminated. But I love The Great Pumpkin, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Frankenweenie, Corpse Bride, etc. I mean, for people with food allergies, Halloween is probably you’re least favorite holiday. But it’s all in how you look at it! You need to have bad days to appreciate the good days. And, even if overall Halloween was not good, there had to have been SOMETHING good about Halloween!

    I know a lot of parents are absolutely paranoid about their kids with food allergies and won’t even let them have a life. Like I’m sorry, but that is really unfair to your kids. Like try to live in the kids shoes for once. Don’t you think your kid would like to try something new?!?! Or do anything at all?

    Like I know its frustrating that a lot of people don’t understand. My one side of the family is doesn’t understand at all and are totally mean to me, but my other side of my family is totally nice and supportive.

    It’s totally rude when shows are making fun of kids with disabilities (ahem Jessie, Disney Channel, shows kids with food allergies watch), but when parents are freaking out about ONE DAY IN A 365 DAY YEAR.

    Parents to there kids are like, IF YOU LOOK AT THE SNICKERS BAR, YOU DIE! And, no, not true. Lighten up a little. If you’re that paranoid about it, just don’t go. Don’t blame the rest of the world for something you can’t control.

    • Tiffany Self

      Hi Claire, I really hope you didn’t get that from my post. My son does Halloween up every year. He knows he can have safe candy and the rest is donated. We’ve done this for six years now. He leads as “normal” a life as the kids he knows, with only a few exceptions…which may change as he gets older. He does not miss out, and the community we live in makes that possible!

  16. Ruth

    The hate goes both ways. I give out fun pencils. I’ve been yelled at by a peanut allergy parent for throwing a bag of Snickers in my cart before. I’ve been asked to ask kids what they’re allergic to is my breaking point um…I don’t need to know. Growing up #1 rule was don’t eat any candy until it has been check by your parents.

    • Tiffany Self

      Ruth, I’m sorry. There’s no way I would ever condone yelling at someone because of food allergies. You’re right, it goes both ways. From the allergy side: out of fear and concern, and from the non-allergy side: out of not understanding the severity and the emotional and physical trauma that occurs for months after exposure. That’s why I do what I do. I want to help bridge the divide to create conversation. Food is like money, deeply personal and emotional. I’ve seen vegans yell at carnivores for eating animals. I’ve seen omnivores mock vegans for not eating animal products. It’s all around. And, it’s really unfortunate, given the fact that we all share this one space and time.

  17. Monica

    What upsets me about these nasty comments is that it’s always about “me”. Get a life people! There are going to be others who are sick, disabled etc around you. Stop making it all about yourself and that your poor little Johnny can’t have peanut butter and jelly! Teach your kids to be caring about others when they are outside the home and stuff their faces with whatever you want at home!!! Seriously! A child could die and all you care about is your pathetic obese American stomachs.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      I never understand the “but my kid likes peanut butter and jelly” arguments. Can’t he eat that at home?

      • That drives me nuts (no pun intended) too Roo!! I mean, my kids don’t have allergies and our school is a very strict no-nut zone. Even no nut substitutes allowed because of the confusion and panic they can cause. And my kids LOVE pb sandwiches. Do I freak out that I can’t send that to school??? HELL NO!!

        I mean, kids are easy. Parents make it harder. I send my kids with a collection of snacks, fruit, yoghurt and often just bread and butter for their lunch. If they want PB they have it before or after school. EASY! They don’t NEED s PB sandwich at school. They don’t even really NEED a sandwich. That is just our conditioned idea of lunch for kids.

        I love this idea of a teal pumpkin. I never heard of it before. I always buy nut-free candy because as one poster said “It feels like the right thing to do” but I also love the idea of non-food items too. Such small gestures.

        And in the end, beyond the idea of being responsible for someone else’s kids, I would like to think I am teaching MY children empathy.

        And with two little people, helping to make the world a better place.

        • Cher

          My daughter- a VERY picky eater, would pick up a PB&J almost every single day from the lunch line at school. With out that option, many days she just would have not eaten anything at all. Luckily (for her) she never had a peanut free school. If she did though? I would have told her to suck it up and deal with it! Eat something else or starve! We can’t always get our way. Life isn’t fair. ;-)

      • tiffany

        Let me explain my daughter mostly ate pb and j for lunch for almost a yr cuz that’s what she asked for every day I would offer a bunch of other things and she wanted that so I gave it to her y should I fight with her and it’s cheap so my daughter shouldn’t get her fav meal cuz she migh sit next to someone that has an allergy if a child has an allergy they should sit at a table ment for allergies and explained to them cuz by 5 or 6 even yunger they should be aware they could get sick and it is for thier own safety husband is galactacemic and could doesn’t or get

        • Roo Ciambriello

          Sitting separately doesn’t quite cut it a lot of the time. Your daughter’s favorite meals transfers on to her hands and the risk of cross-contamination is very real, especially for younger grades.

          It’s a great opportunity to teach your child empathy. “You have to eat peanut butter at home, because it’s a way to keep your friends safe.”

        • So, Tiffany, your daughter being able to have her favorite sandwich is more important than someone else’s life? That’s a great lesson you’re teaching there.

    • tiffany

      Your rude

  18. Amy

    Well said. The teal pumpkin project is a completely voluntary opportunity to help spread a little joy to a subset of kids who often get shortchanged on Halloween. It’s not an excuse to leave the epipens at home. It’s not an excuse for kids with allergies to be uneducated or irresponsible about managing their safety. It’s not an excuse to not “be a parent”, and it’s decidedly not a mandate to the neighborhood to give up peanut butter cups. How can it possibly be so polarizing? If you don’t like the teal pumpkin project, don’t participate. It’s not that hard.

    I used to take the nasty comments personally until it became clear that a similar vein runs through every single topic on the Internet from composting to the Kardashians. Some people will always choose to feel slighted, put upon, and angry no matter what topic is on the table. I don’t want that. Not for me and definitely not for my kids. I don’t champion every single cause or awareness campaign that’s out there – but I won’t deny anyone else’s right to do so. Seriously, if your cause is In Defense of the Halloween of Our Childhood with No Exceptions for Food Restrictions, by all means go ahead and hand out peanut M&Ms and homemade caramel apples wrapped in cellophane. Have a blast. I’m not going to stop you. Just don’t go smashing my teal pumpkin.

    And really, given the mounting rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in this country, I’d argue that kids with food allergies are not the only ones who could benefit from a few non-food treats on Halloween.

    • Tiffany Self

      Fully agree. Thanks, Amy!

    • Candy and sugary treats do not cause diabetes. I kindly ask that you refrain from lumping this disease in with obesity, allergies, and heart disease. Thank you.

      ~Mom of a type 1 diabetic

      • Amy

        Hi Sandy,

        As the daughter of a diabetic mother and the wife of an avidly exercising, healthy weight, low carb diet following type 2 diabetic with a rampant family history of the disease, I intended no offense. I know that eating candy doesn’t cause diabetes. High sugar intake over time, however, has been linked to type 2 diabetes.

        Obesity and lack of physical activity also contribute to type 2 diabetes, which comprises the vast majority of cases in the U.S. Much like food allergies, diabetes is not a choice. I’d still argue that children with diabetes won’t benefit from binging on a smorgasbord of candy, which among other things, tends to be high in carbohydrates. I wasn’t trying to suggest that if children eat a lot of candy they will develop diabetes. I’m sorry that I caused you distress by lumping diabetes alongside food allergies or other conditions that affect the food choices we make for our children. In our house, we all have to be conscious of what we eat for one reason or another. I simply meant to imply that a few non-food treats might be a fun and healthy idea for everyone.

        • Hi Amy,

          You did not cause me distress nor did you offend me. I should apologize for coming off so defensively. This time of the year makes me a bit over-sensitive, what with all the myths, misconceptions, and jokes surrounding type 1 diabetes. In reality, we love the candy haul my son gets from trick-or-treating because it will come in handy for treating those low blood sugars.

          Given your ties to both types of diabetes, I’m sure you can understand the stigmatism we fight.

          Thank you for replying in such a kind and non-attacking manner I appreciate it. I wish you and your family good health and a happy & safe Halloween.

          • Amy

            Right back at you, lady! I felt like a jerk when I reread the last sentence of my original comment and realized it sounded like I was blaming kids with health considerations other than food allergies for making bad food choices or enjoying some Halloween candy – which was totally not my intent! Thanks for bringing it to my attention and for being a fantastic advocate for your kiddo. Let’s keep the education and awareness moving forward on all fronts. Have a great Halloween!

      • Cher

        LOL, I said the same thing before seeing you had already mentioned it for me!

        Sorry for the repeat, Amy! ;-)

        (Mother, wife, aunt, sister-in-law, grand-daughter, etc to a lot of T1D’s!

    • Cher

      (Just FYI in case you were suggesting sugar causes diabetes- it doesn’t. Obesity *sometimes can be a link to type 2 diabetes and sugar can cause obesity, but sugar doesn’t actually cause diabetes.) ? It’s a common misconception so I thought I’d throw it out there. ;-)

  19. What a wonderful, moving post. It’s difficult to read the mean-spirited, ignorant comments, but you’ve responded so eloquently. As much as I’ve been following and promoting the Teal Pumpkin Project, I’ve honestly been unaware of those types of comments until now. Who would think people would be so against something that’s meant to include more children but not exclude anyone? I guess I just wanted to focus on the positive, but it’s just as important to address the negative. Thank you for doing so so beautifully.

    • Tiffany Self

      Thank you, Kathy!

  20. Debbie Fannin

    Totally can’t believe there were negative comments about this. But loved some of the positive ones such as teaching the non allergic children empathy. A skill that seems to be lacking in todays society with all the bullying and crimes committed by juveniles. I believe it’s important to increase awareness. Our Grandaughter was recently diagnosed with severe Peanut/Tree nut allergies at 18 months. I am sorry to say our entire family was so uneducated on this topic because it did not affect us….until now. Karma is cruel. If you do not know of someone who suffers from life threatening allergies now you probably will in the future at the alarming rate it is growing. Perhaps it will be your child or Grandchild. Again no one is cramming a Teal Pumpkin down anyone’s throat any more than you are being forced to wear pink to support breast cancer awareness or purple in support of Alzheimer’s Research. Set out a Teal pumpkin…or don’t. I for one intend to have a “Safe” bowl of candy/goodies and a regular one. And I will make certain no cross contamination occurs. To protect my Grandaughter and yours. And btw I am very proud of the way my daughter and son-in-law are raising their daughter. If she cannot have a particular food she is simply told it is not safe for her. Not that she will die or it will kill her. At 2 years old she accepts this without question. As she gets older I am confident her parents will handle questions with the same skill they have acquired so far. These parents are to be commended. This is not an easy job. Do not judge unless you have been there.

    • Tiffany Self

      It helps to have grandparents that are understanding and supportive! Kudos to you, Debbie!

  21. Jill

    I am just getting into the world of public school this year as a parent of a kindergartener and I have to admit that I have almost gone to the point of some of those “nasty” comments myself. My child doesn’t have allergies, and I am thankful for that, but that also makes me very uneducated about food allergies. Notice, I said uneducated, not ignorant, which is what I was called at a school meeting by the parent of a child with allergies when I asked about bringing cookies to a Halloween party. Did I not know that “her child was allergic to gluten, white flour, red dye and processed sugar??” Well no, I did not know that. I don’t even know YOUR name, much less what you child is allergies are. I do think that there has become a sort of push back from parents whose children don’t have allergies because we get attacked when we aren’t thoroughly educated in every single, specific allergy. Children at my son’s school are allowed to bring peanut butter sandwiches, but I have switched to Wowbutter because, no I don’t think that my child’s sandwich is more important than your child’s life. I am more than willing to accommodate any child allergies to prevent them from getting sick, but please explain the allergy, don’t insult me because I am not aware of every childs allergy in the world.

    • Tiffany Self

      YES, Jill. YES. It’s definitely something we have to keep in mind. I’ll never attack. I’ll always educate. I think those that have attacked have likely come across a huge amount of pushback. But, you’re right, we’re all in this together. Know that the majority of us allergy parents will never EXPECT you to accommodate, but we certainly appreciate your willingness to learn and include our kiddos down to the core of our being.

  22. Debi

    I think it has to do with traditions. People freak out if they think you are going to mess with their traditions. My food allergy is poultry and some people totally freak out that I am changing or going to change their Thanksgiving!

    • Tiffany Self

      Are they afraid you’ll make them eat Tofurky, Debi? I agree, it’s tough to change tradition, even if you’re not changing it dramatically.

      • Debi

        No, my allergy is so severe that I can not even smell it cooking. My family had to stop having Turkey for Thanksgiving about 8 years ago. My school does a big turkey dinner at Thanksgiving and I have to take the day off.

  23. Kris

    I don’t understand why parents have such an angry response to the teal pumpkin project. If people want to participate in the project, what is the harm in doing so? It is voluntary. Your kid (w/o allergies) still gets their treat and the experience of trick or treating. No one is hurt by it.

    Making assumptions that kids’ allergies are not that serious is downright dangerous. How would you feel if a kid accidentally ate something at your house that you served knowing there was a kid there with allergies and he wound up in the hospital, just bc you didn’t want to be bothered? Kids make mistakes and to some earlier points, parents do their best to monitor and teach but can’t be watching every second. It’s about being a considerate and decent human being. That’s all. Let’s look out for one another.

  24. You will always encounter mean-spirited people. No matter what ailment you crusade for. I come up against it (especially at this time of year) in defense of my son, a type 1 diabetic. That being said and I’m not sure if this was already mentioned but in your article you stated “Kids with Diabetes have to be careful of their sugar intake…” This is a common misconception. Kids with diabetes must watch their carbohydrate intake and can partake in Halloween candy just as their non-diabetic peers. Sugar has nothing to do with this disease.

    I wish you and all families with severe food allergies (especially the kids!) a safe and happy Halloween.

    • Cher

      We LOVE stocking up on free low BG medicine at Halloween time! ;-) You beat me to the diabetes comment. I didn’t read all 183 comments before asking that diabetes not be included in this!

  25. Uebermom

    What kid isn’t allergic to sugar?! I’m kind of kidding, but really. Sugar is bad for us! We eat WAY too much, and our children eat WAY too much. Well, mine don’t ;) (but its a real fight, and not so much with them as with society.) But truly, I love finding alternatives to candy that kids really like for Halloween. All around a great idea for every child in my book! My kids go out and enjoy the trick-or-treating festivities, have a small sugary feast before brushing their teeth for the night, then leave their candy bags outside their bedroom doors. The Halloween Fairy comes and replaces their candy with an amazing new toy! So exciting! They love it! And, only slightly off topic, each year the Easter Bunny brings baskets overflowing with delicious fruits that they get to pig out on, and a small toy! I’ve told my kids that I can tell E. Bunny to bring candy instead (I am nice, I don’t want them to be genuinely disappointed), but they love their fruit baskets and the tradition continues. Someone might say ‘Its just once a year, what’s the harm?’ Maybe it was when we were kids. Now kids are inundated with sugary garbage constantly and its a real fight to help them learn to make healthy choices on their own and learn to like healthy foods. It takes nothing less than constant vigilance. I’m happy to paint a teal pumpkin and be a contributor to children’s health. Sorry to be so unaccommodating of the sugar-loving, anything-but-candy-is-lame parents, but why again should I inconvenience myself to avoid disappointing your kid on Halloween……? I’m sure you can trade out my glow-stick for some of the more appropriate candy you’ve already got in your house, that’s your responsibility, not mine. :)

    • Kristine

      I love love love your post, Uebermom! We also limit the amount of sugar our children eat. Like you, we are constantly teaching our children how to make healthy choices. That doesn’t mean our children don’t get ice cream, or chips, or a number of other foods we consider to be unhealthy. It means we are teaching them how to eat properly, which includes in moderation. Typically we “buy” our children’s Halloween candy from them each year. They can usually pick 5 or so pieces they want to keep, and then they get to pick something (usually they pick a build a bear friend) to trade it for. This year, I am definitely stealing your fairy idea!! And for those people who think this is horrible, we always give them a choice if they want to keep their candy or not, and they have never, not once made that choice.

      This is my favorite statement in your post, ” Sorry to be so unaccommodating of the sugar-loving, anything-but-candy-is-lame parents, but why again should I inconvenience myself to avoid disappointing your kid on Halloween……? I’m sure you can trade out my glow-stick for some of the more appropriate candy you’ve already got in your house, that’s your responsibility, not mine.”

  26. Leah

    I agree with most of your post but as the grandmother of a child with allergies, I do wish them on some of these nasty, self-centered posters, if only for one instance. Let them see their child going into anaphylactic shock, not knowing if they will live through it. That’s the only thing that could ever shake them out of their willful ignorance and selfishness.

    OTOH, those of you who are so compassionate and understanding even though you do not have any experience with allergies bring tears of thankfulness to my eyes.

    And, Claire, the parents of kids with allergies DO want them to live; that’s why they are so vigilant.

  27. Wendy

    In you article, I have to agree with the first “comment” “When did different and wrong become the same thing”

    As for the allergies. I’m lucky my children don’t have an allergy that can kill them. But I do. If I eat Soy my throat will swell up. I go out to eat and tell them this, they tell me “we don’t use soy” Then I ask them what kind of oil do you cook with or marinade in and they say “oh a blended oil” or “vegetable oil” so I say that can have soy. Do you use cooking spray, or margarine or vegetable shortening. They say “um yes” then then go back and check and come back to me and say “sorry, your right it does have soy” then they will offer me something that says “gluten free” and I have to tell them GLUTEN and SOY are two completely different things

    i mean, come one, I can die and they don’t check 100% before offering me food. I have even called places ahead of time and they STILL don’t check. Yea, the only place I have gone that they take soy allergy as serious as peanut is Disney. Now I carry my own food with me everywhere. I don’t even try to eat out. :(

    • Wow, I can’t believe a restaurant thought gluten and soy were the same thing, Wendy! That’s insane!

    • Cher

      LOL I love when I ask and get “I think so.” Okay, can you ACTUALLY check for me? Please? I can’t rely on your “thinking” so.

  28. SH

    As the title states, “you are looking at it wrong.” No one is asking homes to give up candy, no one is promoting “cater to my child” and no parent is trying to take the “easy” path by doing away with candy instead of educating their child. It’s simply a visual to say “hey, make sure you stop here because you won’t get this taken away at the end of the night.” Period. That’s it. My child is educated, my child will knock on non-teal pumpkin doors. My child will not be dependent on the world to cater to him just because a nice family offered non-food treats. It’s a visual, calm down. How do you know whose door to knock on? The one with the porch light. It’s a visual that says “I have candy, come and get it.” The teal pumpkin says “I’m offering a non food treat (and maybe some candy too)”

    • Exactly! It seems like so many people were assuming kids with allergies wouldn’t knock on any door that didn’t have a teal pumpkin — totally not the case! Well said.

  29. Meghan Finley

    Thank you for writing this! I was another allergic child who could trick or treat but literally had to hand over all of her candy to her cousins so it didn’t go to waste. My mom would have special treats for me at home but knew that just the experience of trick or treating was important for me. When did everyone get so jaded and hate everyone? Don’t they realize what Halloween is to a child?

  30. Joanna

    I never comment on food allergy tit for tats, but I encountered a unique perspective on the Teal Pumpkin Project this year. One of my four kids has eosinophilic esophagitis….if she eats various foods (dairy, soy, egg, wheat, corn, nut, etc) it damages her GI tract causing intense pain, vomiting and swallowing problems. In her 6 years we have taught her to be responsible for herself. She won’t eat anything she can’t identify. She learned hard and fast the world won’t accommodate her. Every minute of every day they live in a world that doesn’t accommodate them. Trust me, they will learn that whether they want to or not, regardless of Halloween candy. ;-)

    This year my daughter is taking a special steroid that allows her to eat most anything for the time being, without becoming ill. So she is super excited about Halloween this year. I read her a blurb about the Teal Pumpkin Project. She was so excited to paint a pumpkin and put it out. In our dialogue she said “I know kids with allergies will still get a ton of stuff they can’t eat, but it is so cool that they know another person is out there who knows it stinks to ditch your snickers bar.”

    I realized that as a parent of an allergic kid, not only do I have a duty to teach her to manage her own health, but I have a job to teach her compassion. To teach her that other people matter. To remember when certain times were hard for her and to extend herself to others in the same situation.

    If she wasn’t allergic, we would still paint a pumpkin. We would do it because teaching kids to put themselves in other’s shoes, think outside of their own needs and wants, that is so important. It extends beyond allergies. It is the principle. I’m glad I have an allergic kid to remind me of these lessons.

    • Rachel

      Well said. And your daughter sounds awesome :)

  31. Brandi

    I loved reading this article! LOVED it!

    My sister and I are participating in a Trunk-or-Treat with our local Salvation Army Kroc Center.
    Although we have both been blessed with children without allergies, my nephew is autistic, so we can sympathize with what other families have to go through even if it’s on a different plane altogether.

    When I first read about the Teal Pumpkin Project, I told her right away, we have to paint at least one of our pumpkins teal and we have to have the option of a non-food item for some of the tricksters.

    And by the way, we’ve started our shopping and let me tell you, buying all that candy plus the candy for our neighborhoods on Halloween is really breaking the bank! I have, however, purchased over 200 non-food items for less than $5.00 – total!

    Those nasty people who want to look at it like such a bother should stop being so greedy and mean-spirited about the Project. Really – what is hurting them? If anything, they should participate to save themselves some money on candy and dentist bills! How can someone be so offended – and I mean personally offended? As if we are giving them the shaft by choosing what we want to GIVE to them for absolutely nothing in return? They are probably the inescapable who would show up not in costume, way too old to be walking door to door begging for candy, and won’t even say thank you.

    I pray your families have a wonderful, allergy-attack free holiday!

  32. Paul

    another option is to just have a bag of candy at home that you know is safe, and then switch it out when your kid gets home. My son has a peanut allergy and we try really hard not to freak out about it – our allergist has told us that some people are so anxious about it that they have panic attacks when they see a chocolate bar. We’re trying not to instill that sort of fear in it. I don’t really understand the anger towards this project though. It’s voluntary and there’s just going to be a no candy option. I guess they all get upset about accessible parking and wheelchair ramps too? Why should I have to walk further because I can walk? It’s not my problem that someone else can’t walk. (I don’t really think that way, but after reading these comments I believe that others do). Oh well – we’re putting out a teal pumpkin and if we have 100 pencils at 8:00 then those teenagers who come by late are getting pencils. Maybe then they’ll learn that it’s for the kids and they won’t Come around next year. It’s win-win!

    • Dawn

      Haha! Love the idea of giving those teens pencils!

  33. Kristine

    Sometimes it complete amazes my how self-centered people can be! Like you mention in your post, no one is MAKING anyone participate in this project! And to the woman who said children want candy and shouldn’t be subjected to having other non-food treats….for years we have handed out non-candy treats…not because we were thinking about allergies, but because we felt like kids only need so much candy on Halloween and there are other “treats” to give them. We always had candy for those who didn’t want non-candy treats, but let me tell you our trick-or-treaters preferred the non-candy treats time and time again!

    We’ll have a teal pumpkin out at our house this year….stop by!

  34. Amanda

    It makes me sick to my stomach that ignorance can breed such hatred. Do they think any of us, especially our children, chose this road? We plead for peace and harmony in our world and in the same breath tell each other to mind our own business and how dare you encroach on my lifestyle. The key to a world of peace and harmony is putting others before ourselves, having empathy and concern for everyone’s well being, and doing all we can to let each person know they matter in this world no matter their difference. I will be praying deeply that those who don’t understand will see and then they will know. We will display our pumpkin proudly in solidarity and educate others so hatred will disappear and love will blossom in it’s place.

  35. Suzanne

    We found out 7.5 years ago that our eldest has peanut and tree nut allergies. It’s just one dimension of a collection of health issues that he has – and, all together, they are just one dimension of him, the awesome, athletic, smart kid he is.

    We raised him to be a self-advocate; we raised him with the attitude that “everybody has their ‘thing’ – you might not be able to see it, but it’s there. There’s no ‘boo hoo, poor me’ – you pick up with your life and move on.” People are shocked when I say that, no, I don’t demand a peanut-free classroom. The world is not peanut-free. He needs to accommodate for himself. He can feel confident in his ability to do
    so, even when family members say, “But this is vanilla ice cream – there’s no nuts in it,” or “Why can’t he have this? He was fine last time.” Of course I worry about him. Of course I worry he might ingest something at school, they won’t follow the emergency protocol, and I’ll lose my precious boy. We just do the best we can.

    Ever since his first Hallowe’en after his allergy identification, I’ve put out two bowls of candy on the porch (if we’re not home) or in our hallway (to grab if I’m handing out at home). They are clearly labeled “Assortment” or “Peanut/Nut-Free”… and I put a sign in my window saying, “Peanut/Nut-Free Treats”. It’s amazing… I’ve seen middle school boys hesitate over the bowls… 80% will choose a small container of Play-Doh over a Twix!!! I was shocked the first time, but it plays out the same way every year! Parents of non-allergic kids appreciate stickers and tattoos for their little ones, too.

    And my son? He’ll accept any candy, say, “Thank you,” and then sort his candy out at home… he makes a bag for everything he can’t eat, and labels it “Candy for Dad”. :)

    What’s not to love?

  36. Rachel

    Thank you so much for your post.

    I always struggle to understand why people get so defensive and hostile about causes such as this. Nobody is imposed upon, but there is potential benefit to children and families. I fail to understand how someone having the compassion to voluntarily provide a visual cue ruins the holiday for anyone else. I also find it interesting (and sad and hard to understand) that a kind gesture such as this somehow called child-rearing practices into question.

    My son is super excited to go Trick-or-Treating again this year.

    We are planning to do as we did last year: We allow him to pick our route and visit the houses of his choice. We bring along a couple of safe candies for consumption en route. We bring along his Epi pens and we both carry our cell phones, in case something unforeseeable happens (like how sometimes candy wrappers can come undone a little bit, and even if the child has no intention of trying to eat something, accidental contact can be made). I walk to every door with him and keep close tabs on what his hands are doing at all times. When we get home, we sort through the candy together on the dining room table. First, we will remove everything with peanuts from the pile, at which point our son is able to pick a safe piece of candy and a prize from the “Halloween Loot” I put together every year, consisting of approx $50 worth of Halloween books and movies and small toys. Then, we will together replace everything that contains milk. Then egg. Then gelatin. Then natural fruit flavor. Then yellow dye. And it will hurt my heart a lot more than it does his b/c at the end of the night, he got to participate in a fun activity, he got several new gifts, and he still got some candy out of it.

    I take responsibility for going out of my way to keep my child safe and happy on a day that could potentially be very difficult for him. He understands why his candy needs to be taken away and doesn’t mind. It’s always been treated matter-of-factly. We knew from the age of 8 months that a single bite/sip of dairy could kill him, so he didn’t understand words like “safe” when we first began this journey. But at the age of barely 2, he would point to cookies or muffins at a bakery and say, “Mom, those have eggs in them. Those would give me ouches.” We’ve also made it a point to eat things he can’t have in front of him in a way that doesn’t make him feel bad. When he asked for ice cream, we reminded him that it’s made with cow’s milk and offered sorbet, which he LOVES. When he asked for blueberries, I would remind him that blueberries give him ouches, just like strawberries give Mama ouches, and he was THRILLED to have strawberries instead. When he went to his first birthday party, we sent his own cupcake and sorbet along with him. This approach may not work with every child, but it worked well with ours. He has awareness of his condition, and it’s not scary or unfair for him. The only thing that bothers him is when he needs to be isolated b/c a group of small children is eating something messy that could kill him.

    Let me say that again. The isolation is the only hard part for him. So when people make kind gestures such as this to try to find a way to include my child, it warms my heart. We’ve encountered such rudeness, cruelty, and lack of understanding on this journey that I don’t expect even decency from people anymore. But it’s always awesome to see another instance in which someone is kindhearted and altruistic.

    So, while we will still visit the houses that don’t put out teal pumpkins, I will feel the utmost gratitude and appreciation whenever I see one.

    There is a chance that he may become upset at some point and need a break (He also has Autism and Sensory Integration Dysfunction, so sometimes he will get overloaded, at which point the capacity for thinking is gone and a biological feelings drive is the only thing present). And in that moment, I may deliberately seek out a teal pumpkin house to give him enough time to re-coup (being removed from the problematic situation for 1-2 minutes is like hitting a re-set button in his brain). At which point I will be a little extra grateful for the kindness of others.

    I don’t expect someone who’s never been in my situation to know or understand what it’s like to watch your child go through anaphylaxis, to stay up all night long staring at him just in case the Emergency Room didn’t give enough Epi, to watch the full-body “hives” that are so large and severe, they are literally welts, take literally days to disappear, and to praise anything and everything that he somehow managed to survive, despite the odds.

    And so I also don’t expect others who have not been in my situation to be able to appreciate caring gestures such as this. But know that I do. From the bottom of my heart, I do. <3 <3 <3

  37. Lori

    I don’t have food allergies and I don’t have kids, but I think this is absolutely fantastic and I will be participating. I actually started looking for allergy friendly foods that I could hand out and found a website that had a lot of them. If anyone else wants to use it it’s: and it doesn’t just have milk protein foods. It had nuts, soy, and a lot of others. I think food allergies are absolutely terrifying and people need to be aware since even adults are becoming allergic to foods they’ve enjoyed since childhood with no explanation. Hopefully awareness like this will bring compassion and attempts at understanding and will also bring awareness and more research into what is causing all these allergies. I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween and that allergy kiddos everywhere get to enjoy it!

  38. Megan

    Wow, I almost couldn’t read the nasty comments you found to share. People are so mean. I hope thise people know karma is a &itch. We don’t have food allergies in our house but will proudly, and voluntarily, be displaying our teal pumpkin and giving out treats and trinkets from two separate bowls!

  39. Crystal

    When I first saw this I loved the idea! Still do! I am so shocked (guess I shouldn’t be) by the negativity, I have no kids with allergies but just as a mom I love it, I don’t love all the candy but love the tradition of Halloween. Last year my kids got glow sticks and I thought it was such a good idea, the LOVED it! When reading about the idea I knew I wanted to join in, we have some friends who’s kids have allergies (not nut) and thought how cool to think of others, plus less candy! I get that when I was a kid I didn’t love when I got a tooth brush but I do remember getting fun stickers to tattoos so why not a fun toy, I will be picking something fun out to give away this year along with some candy. I don’t think its alarmist or enabling just making a fun holiday even more fun!

  40. andrea peck

    Wow. This is shocking. My kids do not have food allergies, but I LOVE the idea that we can give toys and healthy treats instead of candy. Certainly a little toy or other treat is a better choice. Oh, well, let those parents who argue with you deal with health issues, cavities and sugar meltdowns – it seems to me that we can have fun without junk.

  41. Gale Christensen

    What can I say? Just…wow. I read this article and all of the comments, and just… The world really had become a cold and merciless place today, hasn’t it? It’s all about me, me, me. Now, as someone who has worked in the food service industry for years, I know about food allergies. I have seen the bad and the good, and I know first hand a LOT of people don’t take it seriously/realize how serious allergies are. I have berated employees for brushing off a request to change gloves and utensils for an allergic guest, and I’ve praised employees for going above and beyond when someone has an allergy concern. Now, as to this project. I think it’s a wonderful idea. And contrary to what most people are assuming ( and we all know what that makes out of you and me ) this is not intended to REPLACE normal trick or treating at all. it is meant to show parents and kids that hey this place has goodies we won’t have to take away when we get home. As to kids feeling separated or deprived? Well, let me share something about that. In my neighborhood was a family with a severely allergic child. You know what they gave out on Halloween? Quarters. No joke. The parents made little taped bundles of 4 or 6 quarters to give to all the kids who stopped by. And I’m telling you, my kids left the candy in a pile until they found and pocketed the quarters. Now, some may think this option is too expensive, but really I doubt they spent much more than they would have buying candy. And their son, who came up with the idea, loved the praise he got from other kids about how his house was the coolest for Halloween. And do you know what their very clever son did to make his Halloween better? He saved up all the candy he could not have, and sold it to the kids who got quarters from his house at school. Then used the quarters to buy candy he could have. Talk about a smart boy! So if I still gave out halloween treats, which I don’t because there are no longer any young kids in my neighborhood, I’d do this in a heartbeat. Not because I feel guilty, or responsible, or obligated, or whatever. But simply because all kids should be able to enjoy themselves, not just some.

    • Sara

      I loved your post. And you are right, this world has become so heartless! If I could get rid of my 5 year olds severe food allergies, he is anaphylactic to all nuts, milk, eggs, and lentils I would in a heart beat. But one thing I know is my kids have so much love in their hearts for everyone, even ones that are different then them! Thank you for posting something positive!

  42. Sara

    I am so saddened by some of the negative comments about the teal pumpkin project. It just goes to show why so many children are bullies. They have parents who show no compassion and could care less about others. In no way did having a teal pumpkin mean their child wouldn’t get any candy. As if everyone in the world would only offer no food items, get real. And of course us parents who have a child with life threatening food allergies will be going through and checking the candy they do get. Why did people react in such a black and white response? For those who cared, put a teal pumpkin up and bring a little a joy to those who can’t eat most of the candy offered. And if you don’t want to do it, then don’t. You don’t have to put your negative comment out there. My children the one with food allergies and the one without have been taught love and acceptance and yes even doing something nice for someone else when it didn’t even affect them. All the parents who have put this project down, and said horrible things about it is teaching their kids to be a little more selfish and to look out for one self. Bullies in the making…

  43. Cheryl

    The angry comments truly sadden me. They sadly show the lack of compassion in the world today. They were not needed in the least and only reflect the type of person they are. My only hope is that their hesrts and minds may be opened one day and hopefully it won’t take something tragic to do it.

    Now for what I’d like to say is that I think this is a wonderful idea. I plan on participating myself. Last year I had little items the kids could choose rather than candy, due to some leftovers from another event. Anyway, those items went very quickly and kids actually put the candy back in order to have a toy.

    We all need to pull together as communities to keep our children from getting into trouble. My children don’t have allergies, but they have developmental limitations and we are involoved in groups with children with various medical, physical, mental, etc. problems. It amazes me how much ignorance there still is in our world today. Yes, it is better but with availability of info these days you would think it would be even better. The only thing holding people back is their own tunnel vision, selfishness and closed minds. I have had one of my daughter’s be the only sixth grader not included in the annual 6th grade Valentine’s Dance just because she wasn’t in one of the two 6th grade classes. Those teachers new her and had taught her, but didn’t consider what their thoughtlessness would cause.

    Sorry for my soapbox. We as parent’s are our children’s advocates. Bringing awareness to your child’s ailments is not bad thing, it brings about change.

    Cheryl T.

  44. Chris

    Wow! Truly amazing that some who claim to understand where people are coming from can have no absolutely compassion. No one is saying that this project replaces responsible parenting and personal accountability, but who does it hurt if some people decide to do something nice for some little kids – while raising awareness? Give a kid a break.

  45. Elise

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Chris!

    I am blessed that neither my daughter nor my grandchildren have food allergies but whose to say that they might not develop.

    I heard of this project yesterday and immediately was on board. I have the bags of candy, but I now have non-food treats, as well. I will offer a choice for the ghost, goblins, and witches that come to my door and they can make a responsible decision based on their knowledge of their dietary restrictions.

    I will display my teal pumpkin with pleasure and smile knowing that I am still a contributing, positive member of society that has avoided the hardening of the heart that seems to have affected many in social media communities.

  46. Keith

    When respect, kindness and care for those around you is taught to a child, the child grows up to be one who not only contributes to society, but also is a person who people who are relational. As a former educator, I observed parents like those who posted negative comments concerning the care of those in danger due to allergies. Those type of parents were focused on themselves and their children’s “rights” so much that they were perpetuating being self centered and self indulgent. These were parents who, generally speaking, had children who ended up having behavior problems and the parents “just couldn’t understand why.” The parents couldn’t see that their child was following the modeling of their parents. The irony in this is that the child many times ended up being as challenged relationally as the allergy child is and the parent(s) can’t see that. Keep up the good work, these types of discussions help all to learn and become better people.

  47. Well said. Love this. This member of the “normal” world is joining in, because I believe Halloween is about having fun, not about how much candy/sugar/junk we can pass out to children. If we are going to compare to back when we were kids, I for one never got as much candy as my kids get now not just on Halloween, but when we go to the hair salon, the bank, the pet store, etc, etc. Today we are on candy/sweets overload.

  48. TIffany, you are wonderful for handling anger and hatred with grace and kindness. You are setting a great example for kids and adults.

  49. aimee

    I have A child that has chrohns her experience has been horrible classmates tease her for having special lunches they give her a hard time because she needs to snack every 2 hours..she had to give up trick or treating after her diagnose because milk wheat are in everything..she likes walking to the neighbors house across the street to get a pencil or ring from the neighbor who teaches special needs..for her it was easier to say she will create a new tradation ..we have two kids after her that cannot eat any candy or carmel things because they have cerably palsy a family we decided that we will have candy but alternatives too ..people rake kiddos under 2 years old everyone forgets they really shouldnt eat certain we include in our hand outs options like pretzels gold fishes or figs for little ones..i love seeing kids choose..regardless of their allergery or condition ..halloween is for everyone ..if we are going to start being selfish then buy yourself a bag of candy and dont. kid should feel left out excluded and not allowed to is the other aspect for normal kids or families while they might not understand creating understanding and non judgement is a society we need to get back to be kind to all ..dont breed hatred. Share and teach kindness

  50. I personally think this sounds like a great project and I look forward to participating this Halloween. I don’t understand why people push back so hard on something like this…and I really don’t understand how people jump from a project that offers new choices to a project that asks people to change how they always did things. My son has no known allergies, but I would still prefer that he get some non-candy things in his Halloween bag…isn’t the option of non food items good for everyone?? If he grows up with temporary tattoos and pencils and pumpkin erasers alongside his Snickers bars, then that will be his normal…and I certainly plan to hype up the non-candy treats for as many years as I can! :) Some people get really upset when they see others getting what they perceive as “special treatment,” without recognizing all the ways that they are currently benefiting even from whatever the standard way of doing things is, even though that standard way makes other people feel sad or left out. I completely agree that we want to teach our kids to be responsible, but when did lessons in responsibility extend only to themselves or their immediate family? I want my son to grow up to be a man who is not only responsible for himself but who feels a deep sense of responsibility to his community, to the people around him. I hope he learns to look out for himself AND to look out for the other guy.

  51. Smoore

    Alright, so we raise awareness for the dangers of allergens… but then what? What’s the goal here? Just to say, “Yeah, I know nuts are dangerous to some kids.” Or is the goal to make people NOT buy allergy-inducing foods/treats for kids? You clearly state that yes, this is voluntary and it’s totally cool if you don’t participate, which is fine, but then where is this all going? The hope that people WILL stay away from nuts and what have you? Unlike other “awareness” projects, there’s no fundraising involved.

    I’m a parent of a child with nut allergies. I don’t think I’d ever want to remove nuts from others just because my kid is allergic. I guess I just think it’s more than fine having our family manage it without any inconvenience to others. I haven’t had any problems with that. Nuts are a wonderful nutritious food that others enjoy and there’s no need to even encourage the notion of taking it away, which I feel is what this is doing: encouraging parents/people to stay away from them.

    Either way, I enjoyed your perspective and this post.

    • Tiffany Self

      Thanks for your comment, Smoore. You’ve clearly thought a lot about this. My son is not contact or airborne allergic to any of his allergens (all nuts and eggs), for which I am incredibly grateful. Because of this, I too, feel uncomfortable asking for others to totally eliminate their allergens (from school, snacks, etc.) on our behalf. I know all too soon that he will be an adult navigating his way through life on his own.

      For me, raising awareness through this project means helping others learn and understand a couple of things: 1) Food allergies (along with other allergies like latex and venom) are very real and it’s not just “in my head”–it can land my son in the hospital (or worse). I feel that helping someone understand this very simple concept goes a long way to helping others be a little more compassionate and inclusive of everyone who deals with these types of allergies. 2) Parents of kids with severe allergies are not shirking our responsibility and putting it on others in effort to ruin their holiday fun. If I can help bridge the gap between those of us that live with this challenge and those that don’t and for that reason just don’t understand, then I feel like the awareness I’ve helped raise benefits society as a whole.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

    • Raising awareness is simply seeking to help other people have some understanding and compassion. Maybe so they don’t try and feed your kid something because it ‘is just in your head’ or maybe not rolling their eyes when my child politely says ‘Sorry, I can’t eat that’ (which they don’t do trick or treating – we just sort afterwards). It is not expecting anyone to remove anything from their own diet nor is it not expecting them to be the ones to watch our for your child all the time. So many people have such a limited understanding of what food allergies/intolerances etc. really mean for a child. Maybe you have been so lucky you haven’t experienced that? I have had teachers intentionally still try to feed my kids foods they can’t have because they didn’t take me seriously (of course, I have had many more other wonderful teachers who would never do that). I have also had friends’ parents bake a separate cupcake for my daughter for her child’s birthday party so she would have cake to eat (I always ring ahead and provide other food usually) and I appreciated that kindness like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t expect it but it gives you some faith in the kindness of others sometimes. I have to say, it needs to be noted that in every class my children have been in the other children are always 100% willing to support my children, the only resistance I have ever had is with adults.

  52. Krista

    I think this is a wonderful idea. I planned on giving out non-food treats for completely separate reasons. Then, I heard about this movement and went ahead and painted a teal pumpkin as well. (Its actually drying right now!) All kids should have the opportunity for an awesome time trick-or-treating, like we did as kids. Shoot, I trick-or-treated through my senior year of high school because it was my favorite night of the year!! If I can help a kid enjoy the night instead of wonder if anyone will have a treat they can have, then I’m all for it! Keep up the good work!

  53. david

    Very well put. Unfortunately there will always be fierce opposition to things people don’t understand. I have had conversations with people about the teal pumpkins and have actually heard them say that it would make the house a target for the mischief that takes place on Halloween in some areas. Kids will egg the houses that don’t give out the good candy, (how’s that for irony? ) because they don’t understand how dangerous that could be. I often make the comparison to poison. It would be similar to me handing out little vials of cyanide to kids and getting irritated at the parents who complain. If they properly sort through the kid’s haul at the end of the night, there’s a pretty good chance that they won’t ingest any of the bad stuff right?

  54. Tiffany

    I am not a parent of a child with any food allergy. I myself have no food allergies. I have never been in your shoes! But I would like to apologize for the rude and hateful comments some have made. I cannot believe how worked up people get over these things. What does it matter? If you don’t feel it’s necessary to put a teal pumpkin out, and offer a non-candy treat, BE QUIET! Our mouths should be used to love and lift, not tear down! This world is so broken and everyone is just waiting for an opportunity to give their negative feedback. Well I say, GOOD FOR YOU! Yes it’s important to teach our kids a lot of things. Especially those who have a special need. It’s us who teach them to navigate life with whatever that may be. To me it is no different than teaching your kids to choose healthy food at a store. Both are offered, but the choice is ours! Parents we are our child’s advocates, the only ones who will stand up for them. My kids are still young enough to trick or treat, so we don’t hand out candy. But I think it’s an awesome idea!

  55. Heather

    Wow. I think the key here is that no one expects people to participate, but they appreciate those who do. No one in my family has any allergies, but I don’t see the harm in picking up a package of something for those who do and putting it in a separate bowl. It’s not hard, or time consuming. And just because someone goes through that little extra step doesn’t mean the kids aren’t learning to live with their allergies, quite the contrary! They are learning to look for the signs of safe foods! Sadly, society has forgotten the golden rule, and society as a whole doesn’t work unless we all work together. I for one, will have a giant teal pumpkin right along with our jack-o-lanterns! Hopefully, as a parent, I will be teaching my children to have some respect for all people, and to care about something other than just themselves.

  56. Amy

    I can’t believe parents are being so rude about possibly saving a kids LIFE! No one is making you participate. But I do have respect for parents that do have to worry about this…How can y’all be so selfish…when I was a kid… guess what a lot has changed since “we were kids”.

  57. Tracy

    For I believe Halloween to be about the dressing up and how much candy you get. I all ways have candy at Halloween. I have never gave out non food treats and never will not because I don’t think it is a good idea. I work with kids who have different things that can affect the life. But what I do before Halloween is due I start to put a side 50p a day. So that when Halloween comes . I always check with the parents that come to my door if they can have the candy then that’s what the get but for the kids that can’t I give them some money and tell them that there mum or day can take the to the shops and they can buy what ever they want. I have done this now for the last six years and never once have I not be thanked you from a parent. Now all my neighbour and family and close friends do it has well. So not only kid with allergies get a treat all kids get a treat some people might think given kids money is not the same. I know from experience how it make a difference my younger sister has food allergies and our neighbours growing up did this for her and my mum would take her into town and she would spend her money on the candy that she was able to have so she still got her candy at Halloween just like every kid did. Me and my brothers never felt like we got any different from her and we always put our candy away until she had been to the shop and got hers so that she never had to watch us enjoy and not be sad about not being able to join In. It dose’t matter what you do it is the thoughts that count and the smile in the kids faces that matter.

  58. People are so cruel :(.

    I wish we had trick-or-treaters. We would completely participate. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I hadn’t heard of it.

  59. Misty

    I’ve never really considered children with allergies only babies/toddlers and older kids. We always have suckers and stickers for little ones and an assortment for older kids. So accommodating older kids with allergies doesn’t seem like a big deal, at least not enough to get mad about. Just do it or don’t do it and let people raise their own children how they see fit too!

    Now that being said I wish it was more of a ribbon or bracelet movement. That way you know what treats to hand out to which child without getting to personal. I wouldn’t mind fruit and even suger free options. I’m not a fan of cheap toys but maybe bubbles, crayons or activity books? I just love seeing those sweet happy faces at my door.

    • Cher

      Sugar-free options? I’m assuming (correct me if I’m wrong) you mean for kids with diabetes? Thanks, but please don’t! Kids with type 1 diabetes CAN eat anything! Sugar free treats have laxatives in them! (That’s what the sweetener is!) In fact, sugar is MEDICINE for kids with diabetes! Much like an epi-pen, they need to carry sugar around for life-threatening low blood sugar.

      • Misty

        My stepdaughter is diabetic and so is my mom so I understand that they can have normal candy. I also know about sweetners and alcohol sugars (learned the hard way when I was younger and ate a small bag of sf pecan delights at one time lol!) But I realize there are other illnesses where processed sugars would be an issue. That’s why I said sugar free options not sugar free candy. I will always hand out candy. I have five children with my stepdaughter included who love chocolate and gummies. I was just commenting that I never considered being even more diversified in options for older kids who may need one.

  60. Dana

    Why is it that people are skipping over the this is optional part? No one is forcing you or even asking you to cater to these kids they are making you aware that IF you would like to take this way for Halloween it might make a kids day! Is this really that hard to understand or figure out? Honestly I never even thought of kids with allergies and an alternative for them before I read this and maybe that is because the parents took care of it. I never had a parent bring their child to my door and say oh BTW do you have anything else than that Johnny is allergic. So unless you have had someone actually say that to you, which would be them asking you to cater to their child, you cannot say that this project is doing that. Very selfish self absorbed attitudes is what is portrayed here in some comments. I for one will be finding a way to offer an alternative for any kid who wants it just because of this article! Not because I feel I have to cater or am.being asked to treat anyone different or special but because it’s a nice thing to do period!

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Love your comment, Dana. It’s optional! No one is demanding that we cancel Halloween or alter it in any way. There’s just a group of compassionate people who is doing something for the sake of inclusion. Why anyone is getting cranky about it is beyond me.

  61. Kelly

    I don’t have children with food allergies but I do however LOVE this idea! I would personally rather my child to get that glow in the dark toy instead of a years worth of candy and $$$ of dental bills to pay for a night of fun! I don’t understand why added something besides candy is a problem, all children should be able to have fun without a risk to their health.

  62. Rene

    My nephews also have food allergies, however my sister and BIL do not want them to “miss out” on the fun of dressing up and participating in Halloween. They utilize a “game” called Switch Witch where they allow each of the boys to close a small (cereal sized) bowl of candy to keep and then they leave the rest of their candy for the Switch Witch to come switch out for a toy(s) while they sleep on Halloween night. The parents then donate their candy to (I think) their dentist office abd it’s sent overseas to troops. You can Google search Switch Witch. I Wish I had known about this when my kids were younger.

  63. Lydia

    I think this is a good idea so my criticism is not meant to totally negate the idea but the problem is there are a whole slew of allergies out there. Yes nut allergies are particularly common but they are not the only allergen found in candy. As a teacher I basically can’t bring any candy into my room. And at a more personal level I have a family member who is allergic to red dye and breaks out in severe hives and therefore the typically “allergy safe” candies are not okay for her. So by limiting options it may help children with nut allergies but hurt others. A smarter choice would be to have a few different candy types … In separate bowls so that no one is excluded.

    • Angel

      That’s why the writer suggests giving small trinkets instead of candy.

      Those spider rings would be perfect or they have other timy bags of non food treats that are inexpensive at Halloween time.

      Honestly it’s better for ALL the kids than candy. Plus they’ll all enjoy a little treat. :)

  64. Sylv

    This is very late, but I’d like to ask folks still reading the comments to look at it this way: if a child is disabled, we make accommodations for their disability. We might build a ramp, put in a handrail, offer pre-cut food if their motor skills are poor.

    Teal pumpkins provide the same accessibility for kids with severe allergies. That’s all. It doesn’t mean some slippery slope to entitlement, or an indictment of your own childhood. It doesn’t make your kid weird just because another parent is thoughtful enough to offer them a toy.

    I am a paraplegic and I also have some severe environmental and food allergies. But I doubt you’d treat my need for wheelchair ramps like some big entitlement thing. So don’t fuss about teal pumpkins, either!

  65. Hannah

    It amazes me that anyone could be against this. Since when is it a bad thing to help others? Oh, and for people saying that “kids need to learn to deal with being different” or “that’s life”, what kind of lessons are you trying to teach YOUR kids. I personally think this is a great opportunity to teach my son about the importance of helping others and making them feel included. Also, as it has been stated many times, it’s VOLUNTARY. If it’s something you don’t want to do, don’t do it. But please don’t try to bring others down for wanting to make things a little easier and safer for someone else.

  66. Angel

    I’m sorry people are so cruel & hateful about our CHILDREN. I try to look at this world & think positive but some people make that very difficult. I have two boys both with ADHD who have a severe red 40 allergy & although it doesn’t cause a life threatening reaction it is an allergy just the same. I, myself, am allergic to tree nuts. Food allergies are no joke. I don’t understand how people can just be so cold & heartless. I will be participating in the teal pumpkin project this year & every year to follow. Thank you for getting this going. Not just for kids with nut allergies but for kids like mine as well. ♡

  67. Leah

    I personally think this is a great idea, that way all kids came enjoy the one night a year where they can be someone else for a few hours and have fun. I think in order to appease most of the “normal” people who think this project is ruining halloween we should have it set up that you add a small teal pumpkin badge to the pail or bag the kid is using to collect candy and any home owner that sees it and has a teal pumpkin on their porch can give them a very simple piece of candy like a big tootsie roll and a small toy or trinket and if there is a kid without one then they can get the other stuff since they are normal and don’t have to worry about the possibility of dying except from obesity or diabetes. And it would be simple, just get a piece of teal felt or something and cut it into the shape of a pumpkin and attach it to the pail or bag and have fun. But then again that’s just my opinion and some people may disagree but it’s what I would do.

  68. Katina

    Well, I don’t have a child with food allergies (by the grace of God) and I had never thought of any of this until now (sorry) but I have to say, WOW! WOW, to the rudness, I know I shouldn’t be shocked by the attitudes of people these days but WOW. I don’t & won’t understand the hatred, it is like you said, voluntary. I won’t go off on that except to say I apologize for the ignorance of so many self centered people and I pray that some day you won’t have that worry or fear of what your child is eating & they will never have to go through another reaction again.
    As far as the teal pumpkin, AWESOME idea, I had stopped giving out candy in the last couple of years, my boys are 17 & 19 now, so I just kinda gave up, but I think I will start back & be strictly a teal pumpkin server from now on. There are plenty of other houses giving out candy anyways, they won’t miss mine I don’t think. Haha

  69. Megan

    Seriously what is with all the hate for this sweet and caring project?? In my community (and when I was a child back in the 80’s) DENTISTS used to hand out non-candy treats to talk about cavities (which is not nearly as scary as some of these food allergies are). AND NOBODY HATED ON THE DENTISTS!! No one is forcing anyone participate in this, they are just adding it as a nice option IN ADDITION. Nobody is taking away anyone’s Halloween by adding a teal pumpkin and fun toys. These crazies need to calm down.

  70. Robin Gray

    Hi Tiffany,
    I’m not a mom, but I love kids. I don’t have a typical food allergy, but I am allergic to all animal flesh from a hoof. I remember what it was like for me nearly 28 years ago when I became a vegetarian. I remember how excluded I would be going out to dinner with friends, because even a simple salad would be smothered in bacon bits, and no, the salad couldn’t be made without them (strange but true).
    When I learned about the Teal Pumpkin Project on 10/31/14, it was too late to participate. But I planned for it this year. I like to include as many people as I can when it comes to having some good, clean fun. It doesn’t hurt anyone to pass out some toys and non-food treats, in addition to candy for those kids that don’t have food allergies. That’s why I don’t get what the “hating” is all about. Really? Can’t we just get along and share and help make this world a more loving place to live? It’s wonderful to see a kid light up and smile when they can finally participate in something that they couldn’t do before. Seriously, how’s that impeding on anyone’s fun?
    I can’t wait for Halloween this year. I have signs to post about offering toys and candy, and will be painting some Funkins teal very soon. They will be incorporated into my standard Halloween yard decor. I love to celebrate (especially Halloween). Teal Pumpkins will expand on that endeavor.
    Thank you for sharing your post and standing up for this wonderful cause.
    Happy Halloween!

  71. Slinky

    I don’t understand what you said about the candy ending up in the dumpster. Isn’t it the parents’ job to eat the candy that the kids can’t eat?

    • Cher

      Haaha! True, except my nephew has had an anaphylactic response to his dad eating peanut M&M’s away from home, even after rinsing his mouth out and washing his hands!

      • slinky

        Poor kid. My Mom had a seafood allergy. Once when she was visiting, a friend suggested I take her to a certain seafood place. When I said she has an allergy and can’t eat there, he said she should just suck it up and stop being such a baby. Ugh, ignorance is not bliss.

  72. TJ

    Anyone who gets this worked up over what Internet commetors have to say probably shouldn’t be allowed to use the Internet

  73. Cher

    Please, Please, PLEASE do not include children with diabetes in this!!! 99% of Children with diabetes are type ONE. They CAN have candy! In fact, we LOVE Halloween because we stock up on MEDICINE! Yes! Sugar is medicine for type one diabetics!!! The best kind? For my 2 T1D’s (son and husband), Skittles, smarties, and star bursts, are great to fix LIFE-THREATENING low blood sugar. A pack of skittles is 15 grams carbs. Smarties are 8 g. 2 star bursts are 9. (Yup, got them memorized!) Sugar free candies still have carbs. Which means insulin is still needed to eat them! And…. FYI, the sweeteners in sugar-free things? A laxative. Yep! Sure is! The only thing my son cannot eat is poison. And cookies. Made with poison. Type one is an autoimmune disease. Type 2 *can be controlled by diet and exercise. They are totally different diseases. Don’t get me started on the names….

    I’m just as passionate on educating about type 1 as you are about allergies! My nephew has a life-threatening peanut allergy. I totally get it, and understand why people don’t. Unless you live it, there’s no reason to know!

  74. Dianne

    To all of you who are still spewing hate, shame on you. Those of us who are parents to children with severe food allergies DO teach our children to avoid their allergen. Their life depends on it. How twisted are you to think we get some sick high when we share our struggles with others? Do you honestly think we wouldn’t take the hassles of their conditions away in a second if we could?

    My son has zero safe foods. ZERO. He has no developmental issues. He remembers what it’s like to eat and he misses eating dearly, struggling every day in the worst way. He has a genetic condition that makes his body react so much to foods that he gets 100% of his nutrition from a hypoallergenic formula delivered to him by a feeding tube in his belly.

    Does he know he is different? Of course. He is not stupid. Does he expect people to cater to him? Absolutely not. Does he deserve to have a “treat” like all other kids? Yes. Yes, he does. He deserves it. He goes through so much that most of you couldn’t even fathom. How about all you proponents of the “get over it” attitude teach your children some empathy, for Pete’s sake? Quit your griping and do something nice for a change instead of trying to tell me where I’m going wrong with my parenting. Have a heart.

  75. Dane

    My 2 kids both have severe food allergies , including nuts/tree nuts. I will not have a teal pumpkin on my porch for a few reasons. I think that it is ok for my kids to learn there are things they just cannot have , we don’t always have to offer our children another alternative when there is something they can not do or have. Secondly I’m not going out and buying more crap that will be thrown away the week after Halloween. Let’s face it , after a few days the kids forget about their candy and pretty soon after we wind up throwing a big portion away. I don’t want anymore stuff, bubbles , pencils etc. no thanks. Its Halloween – let kids go trick or treating- monitor what they are eating or explain to them that they cannot have it and call it a day. They will be ok .

  76. Angelica Coleen

    My oldest of 4 is 7, she is lactose intolerant, she also has autism. Yes I talk about her and her struggles, but it is to raise awareness and help people to maybe be understanding about some things. I also talk about my other 3, what they are going through. I treat my kids the same, as I hope any other person would. I have my teal pumpkin done! I also do an autism awareness pumpkin.

    I think people also forget some kids who have no food allergies aren’t allowed(parent choice) to eat sweats or junk food. So in a way this helps them to be included and enjoy the night too. I let my kids eat sweats and junk food, in moderation, but some kids aren’t allowed to at all… Consider every child, even those w/ out allergies that cant /aren’t allowed to have all the treats they get.

  77. KaDeana

    Thank you for your kindness and this post. This is a critical topic. I grew up eating nuts in everything. Protein!!! My mom is an amazing cook and baker and it was just part of my everyday life. My daughter was diagnosed with Nut allergies at a very young age. She has been in an ambulance fighting for her life because their was peanut butter in the Enchiladas (but not on the menu… and I did not ask) because I don’t make my enchiladas like that and had no idea you could or would… One bit and her throat was closing. I have never been so scared in my life. Her lips were blue when the paramedics came. Thank God we knew one of them. My daughter’s throat will itch and her eyes will water at the scent of nuts now. She has trick or treated before… but it has not been easy. I don’t expect others to parent my child. She has been reading labels since she could read. However, if someone wants to share that they are a nut free zone or house. Bravo! Thank you! how wonderful for you to care; and to promote awareness. My daughter is 18 now, and recently a new girl started at work. Her boss said No nuts here – okay a few days later the new girl brought in cookies… Rebecca asked, are their nuts in your cookies? No she replied. She took One bite – And said you put nuts in these, she was running around trying to get Benadryl and (she did not swallow her tongue was burning) The girl, said, “Oh I did use peanut oil.” aaaaahhhhhh Dah! you see, it is not your responsibility – but when someone does care and show compassion (like putting a teal pumpkin on their porch) that helps make others feel just a little closer to normal.
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